Don't drive unless you have to, but if you have to, here's what Austin driving conditions are like
Austin driving conditions are changing quickly, but here's a snapshot of driving on the city's side streets and Interstate 35 on Wednesday morning.
After having been without power for two days at my boyfriend's house in North Austin, we decided to drive to South Austin, where my house has power and water. (His house, near Lamar/Rundberg, lost water Wednesday morning.)
At 10:30 a.m., the side streets north of U.S. 183 were still heavily compacted with snow and ice, with some wet spots that will freeze as temperatures drop later today. Most stoplights were out, but some were still functioning. Be careful approaching intersections. My vehicle is a crossover, and I was glad to have the extra weight in some spots. (I learned how to drive in Missouri, where road conditions like this would still be considered menacing.)
North Lamar Boulevard was slushy, but drivable, with both lanes open. The H-E-B at Rundberg remains closed, but a nearby food truck, Regio's, had a line of about 20 people. One of the only other businesses open in this corridor was Hu Tieu My Tho restaurant in the Chinatown shopping center.
The frontage roads of I-35 are slushy and at a much-reduced lane capacity. There were a few stalled cars parked on the side of the highway and two cars left unattended after an accident.
On Interstate 35, the far left lane was too slushy to drive in, but the middle and right lanes were wet but not frozen over and passable at slow speeds. The overpasses had noticeably more precipitation build up, but cars were keeping at speeds around 40 miles per hour, so I didn't see anyone sliding around. I saw more slipping on side roads when cars approached or left an intersection.
The exits off Interstate 35 were still a little slushy, so if you have to be on the roads, be sure to go slow. High clearance and 4-wheel drive is better for navigating the bumpy neighborhood streets. (Or that huge puddle on the frontage road of Interstate 35 South near one of the car dealerships, which forced all the cars into one slow, splashy line.)
The side streets in South Austin were in better condition, with almost all of the lanes cleared on Stassney Road and South Congress Avenue.
Most of the stores in South Austin that we passed also were closed, with the exception of a Dollar Store at South First and Stassney and Fiesta, which had a long line of customers waiting to get in. One shopper said the store was letting 15 people in at a time and that he'd been waiting for about 30 minutes so far.
Officials are discouraging travel, so do not travel unless it's an emergency. Keep an eye on the temperature and any pending precipitation; road conditions can change greatly over a day.