A blast of polar air and wet weather are forecast to hammer the region leading local officials to prepare for the worst the inclement weather has to offer.
A storm system out of the west with cold air coming from the polar region will bring probably the coldest air seen around here since 1989, said Nick Hampshire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in New Braunfels.
“Very dangerous,” he said of the cold and mix of sleet, rain and snow predicted to fall in Guadalupe County beginning Sunday. “We don’t want anybody to get stuck out. Stay home Sunday night. Don’t get stuck on the road because it’s going to take somebody a long time to get to you because it’s going to be brutally cold.”
Starting about 8 or 9 p.m. Sunday, forecasters expect widespread freezing rain transitioning to sleet and snow, Hampshire said. Accumulation of 1 to 2 inches of precipitation could be possible. That round of precipitation will move out by Monday morning but frigid temperatures will stick around.
“We’re going to have some brutally cold temperatures Monday morning into Tuesday with wind chills near 0 possibly Monday morning,” Hampshire said. “Tuesday, our low temperature should be right around 10 [degrees] with wind chills near 0.”
Forecasts show another round of sleet, snow and freezing rain Tuesday night, he said.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday declared a state of disaster in all 254 Texas counties due to the weather. He ordered state resources to respond to help local officials’ efforts handling the weather.
“Texas should heed the guidance of their local leaders and stay alert to changing weather conditions in their area,” Abbott said. “These resources will help us respond to this severe winter weather and keep our communities safe. The state of Texas remains in close contact with officials on the ground and will provide any additional resources and support that are needed.”
The governor ordered the Texas Division of Emergency Management to send help. Help included but wasn’t limited to winter weather roadway preparation equipment and crews from the Texas Department of Transportation; courtesy patrols for stranded motorists on major traffic corridors from the Texas Department of Public Safety; and monitoring and reporting of power outages and power generating capabilities from the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
In Seguin, city staffers began preparing Thursday for the coming winter weather, said Jennifer Sourdellia, public information officer.
“The Public Works Department is closely monitoring the winter weather conditions,” she said. “With freezing rain and extremely cold temperatures in the forecast over the weekend and into Monday, our crews are prepared to spread material onto the streets and bridges that are prone to become icy and slick.”
City employees met with county employees to coordinate safety efforts, Seguin Emergency Management Coordinator Greg Dreiss said. They had barricades set up and ready to be placed in areas to prevent traffic flow where roads or bridges become icy, he said.
Six trucks are ready to go and Guadalupe County Road and Bridge Department personnel are prepared to handle the inclement weather, Road Administrator Mark Green said. They’re ready to do what they have to do, he said.
“The same thing we always do is we’ve already preloaded all of our trucks that have the capability to put out icing sand,” Green said. “We parked them under covered buildings to keep that sand dry to where it doesn’t become a solid when we’re trying to put it out.”
Besides that, he and his team are waiting, Green said. In the event wintery precipitation falls on the county, they will start spreading sand on bridges and move to particular entrances to subdivisions that have steep inclines, he said.
“We also normally put a little deicing agent on the courthouse steps and some buildings downtown,” Green said. “But since Monday will be a holiday, we do not plan on having to do that.”
Staying home during inclement weather is the best idea for county residents, Guadalupe County Emergency Management Coordinator Patrick Pinder said. People in the county should take precautions to prevent emergencies and injuries, he said.
“We want to make sure everyone is safe,” Pinder said. “We want to make sure tow trucks, law enforcement, fire service … don’t have to go out there and sit alongside these interstates during the inclement weather. If we’re out there for accidents, lights and emergency services vehicles tend to draw attention to drivers and more accidents occur.”
Residents who must drive in Seguin are encouraged to slow down and allow extra drive time, Sourdellia said. Remember the four “P”s, people, pets, plants and pipes, she said.
Ensure family members are warm and elderly people have extra blankets and are kept safe, Sourdellia said. Bring pets out of the cold.
Cover plants to keep them warm or bring them inside and cover exposed pipes to prevent freezing and breaks, she said.
“As we get cold and people are trying to keep their houses warm, they want to do that safely,” Dreiss said. “Make sure they’re using devices intended for heat. A stove is not an adequate way of warming your house.”
Dreiss provided safety tips for using portable space heaters. They should be plugged into a wall — not an extension cord or power strip — and only be used with at least three feet of clearance around them from any combustible material, Dreiss said.
“Be mindful with anything that produces heat, it can catch things on fire,” he said. “Stay warm, stay dry and enjoy the holiday.”
Cold air could stick around late in the week, Hampshire said. Forecasts include a high of 39 degrees on Sunday and a low of 30; a high of 28 on Monday and a low of 17; and a high of 34 on Tuesday and a low of 9, he said.
“It’s going to stay pretty cold through late week,” Hampshire said. “It looks like we could have another round of sleet/snow/freezing rain Tuesday night. We’ll refine that forecast as we get closer to it.”