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What you need to know about Austin weather Wednesday: Winter storm warning canceled, but more rain, snow mix likely overnight

Roberto Villalpando Hojun Choi
Austin American-Statesman

Editor's note: The Statesman is making this story about Austin winter weather free for everyone to read as a public service. If you don't already, please subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribenow.

Austin power outage updates: Thousands still without power throughout Central Texas

Sunday: What you need to know about Austin weather Sunday: Snow makes 2nd visit to Austin this year

Monday: What you need to know about Austin weather Monday: Day 5 of freeze, no rain until Wednesday

Tuesday: Winter storm warning in effect until Thursday

Winter storm warning canceled, wintry precipitation still expected tonight

Austin is no longer under a winter storm warning, according to National Weather Service meteorologists. 

But National Weather Service meteorologists said some precipitation is expected Wednesday night before changing into snow on Thursday. The front bringing in the precipitation is coming from the west and is expected to bring about an inch of snow to the Austin area. 

The Texas Department of Transportation said precipitation overnight could freeze roads and warned people to avoid driving if possible, adding that conditions could remain dangerous Thursday morning. 

Austin Energy on Wednesday restored power to about 16 circuits, and more than 70% of customers had power around 5:30 p.m., but officials said more outages are possible and may last until Thursday or longer. 

Multiple cold shelters and warming centers have been made available. Officials said people who lack transportation to a shelter can call 311, but added that resources are limited and that priority is being given to those with medical conditions. 

Austin city officials said some shelters that were available before had closed after power was shut off. 

The Palmer Events Center is the city's main 24-hour shelter, officials said.

Reilly Elementary School, Del Valle High School and Mendez Middle School are available as shelters, according to city officials. 

The Austin school district has made several school campuses available as warming stations for families from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

The warming stations are: 

  • Lee Elementary, 3308 Hampton Rd, Austin, TX 78705
  • Murchison Middle School, 3700 N Hills Dr, Austin, TX 78731
  • Joslin Elementary, 4500 Menchaca Rd, Austin, TX 78745

Winter storm warning for Austin ends Thursday, sustained thaw possible Saturday, forecasters say

A once-in-a-generation freeze that has gripped Central Texas could begin retreating Friday, with temperatures starting to thaw out starting Saturday.  

But a final delivery of light snow will hit the region early Thursday, the National Weather Service warned Wednesday. The actual timing of the precipitation could change, but forecasters expect a wintry mix of rain and sleet to arrive in the Hill Country and the Austin metro area during the wee hours of Thursday. By daybreak, precipitation would become light snow throughout the Interstate 35 corridor and could persist into the afternoon.

Full story:Winter storm warning for Austin ends Thursday, sustained thaw possible Saturday, forecasters say

ERCOT leaders still cannot say when power will be restored to more than a quarter of Texans without

With roughly a quarter of Texans still without power, the managers of the state's electrical grid Wednesday declined to say exactly when electricity would be fully restored, saying that the main factor in coming days will be the weather.

Warmer weather could allow frigid power facilities to roar back to life, restore natural gas production, open up roads for skilled workers to make power repairs and cut demand from consumers, they said. 

"The best case is that today or tomorrow we’re able to get back to the point that all consumers are experiencing outages no longer than 30 minutes or an hour at a time," said Dan Woodfin, head of system operations at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the nonprofit corporation that runs the state power grid. 

More:ERCOT leaders still cannot say when power will be restored to more than a quarter of Texans without

2 dead in fire as heating safety warnings, emergency calls linked to winter storm continue

Two people were killed and others were injured in an East Austin fire Wednesday morning as authorities continue to warn people who remain without power amid gelid temperatures not to endanger themselves when trying to stay warm.

If investigators determine that the fire was caused by unconventional heating methods, the deaths could be the first in the Austin area to be tied to the unprecedented winter storm still affecting much of the region.

But while first responders have responded to a barrage of emergency calls related to the severe winter weather, no reports of fatalities have been directly linked to the freezing conditions so far. 

Full story:2 dead, others injured in East Austin fire, medics say

Boil water notice issued for Southwest Austin, Lost Creek; other areas told to limit usage

Austin Water is asking customers in Southwest Austin and the Lost Creek neighborhood to boil their water before using it for drinking or cooking, until further notice.

The boil water notice went out after 11 a.m. Wednesday, marking the first sign of water trouble following power outages that have left much of the city without electricity since Monday morning.

Austin Water says it has not detected contaminants in its water supply and that the notice is out of precaution. All Austin Water customers -- not just those in the areas with the boil notice -- are being asked to limit their water usage to essential needs to avoid a possible citywide boil notice.

Full story:Boil water notice issued for Southwest Austin, Lost Creek; other areas told to limit usage

Wednesday forecast for Austin

What do you need to know about Wednesday's weather? Please stay off the roads.

"A significant and crippling icing event is ongoing this morning," the National Weather Service said in a bulletin early Wednesday. "Travel is near impossible in many locations across the Hill Country and along and east of the I-35 corridor this morning due to ice-covered roads."

If you must travel, the weather service recommends keeping an extra blanket, a flashlight, a charged cell phone, extra food and bottled water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

Forecasters warn that ice-coated tree limbs and power lines could come down early this morning where heavier icing already occurred in the past several days.

Temperatures could edge above freezing in the afternoon and allow partial melting. But a second round of freezing rain and sleet is expected late Wednesday night, before changing over to snow Thursday, the weather service said.

"Heavier snow amounts are currently forecast across the Rio Grande and western Hill Country," forecasters said.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. Thursday for the Austin metro area and neighboring Hill Country, the weather service said. The warning was extended from 6 a.m. Thursday into the evening because of the timing of the new precipitation starting late Wednesday.

Austin's outlook for Wednesday calls for freezing rain to continue until 9 a.m. Daytime temperatures could reach 1 degree above freezing for a high near 33. But wind chills will be produced by north winds of 5 to 10 mph.

At night, Austin has another slight chance of freezing rain and sleet between midnight and 3 a.m., forecasters said. 

Overnight temperatures Wednesday into Thursday will retreat to below freezing for a low around 25 degrees. Biting north winds will persist with gusts as strong as 20 mph.

A slight chance of snow, freezing rain, and sleet will be possible early Thursday. 

The weather service's extended forecast calls for thawing temperatures to kick in Friday and more seasonable temperatures for February in Austin coming this weekend:

Thursday: A slight chance of snow and sleet before 9 a.m, then a slight chance of snow. High near 34 with north winds of 10 to 15 mph and gusts as high as 20 mph. Mostly clear at night with a low around 18. North-northwest winds persist.

Friday: Sunny with a high near 42. Then mostly clear at night with a low around 25.

Saturday: Sunny with a high near 54. South winds increasing to 5 to 10 mph in the morning with gusts as high as 20 mph. At night, mostly cloudy with a low around 43.

Sunday: Mostly sunny with a high near 60. Then at night, partly cloudy with a low around 38.

Monday: Sunny with a high near 60. Mostly clear at night with a low around 37.