Feb 2, 2023 - News

Austin Energy customers remain without power after freeze

A photo of a frozen power line.

Photo: Twitter/Austin Energy

Roads and trees are beginning to thaw, but this week's winter storm again pushed the city to the brink.

The big picture: Unlike the 2021 edition, temperatures in the Austin metro hovered near freezing and residential outages were localized, rather than part of bigger problems with the state's grid.

Yes, but: As many as 28% of Austin Energy customers — or more than 155,910 homes — were still without power as of 6am Thursday as ice coated power lines and downed tree limbs.

  • Local EMS and fire officials reported a high volume of calls related to downed power lines and tree branches falling onto homes and cars.
  • Austin fire officials responded to more than 76 reports of wires arcing since 3am Wednesday.
  • I-35 was shut down in both directions Wednesday afternoon between Wells Branch and Grand Avenue Parkway due to downed power lines, per CBS Austin.
  • At least 347 flights were canceled and 67 flights delayed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport yesterday, according to FlightAware data.
  • Austin ISD and the University of Texas are closed Thursday for a third consecutive day.

Zoom out: At least seven people in Texas have died and more than 391,000 customers lacked power statewide, most along a swath from San Antonio northeast to Paris.

  • The combination of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and Arctic air spilling south from Canada resulted in a long-duration ice storm for millions of people across at least eight states, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

Why it matters: This week's storm, which rolled in late Monday, was the latest test of the state's power grid and local utilities.

  • During 2021's winter storm, widespread grid outages left millions of Texans without power and Austin went under a citywide water boil notice.
  • Officials attributed nearly 250 deaths across Texas to the freeze, though the actual number was likely higher.

What's next: The sound of chainsaws will be ubiquitous in Austin neighborhoods for weeks to come as residents clear downed tree branches.


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