Texans urged to get ready for (eventual) cold weather

Wintery Weather

Though it might seem an afterthought to a community that saw snow before the first official day of winter, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is encouraging local residents to make preparations for cold weather.

After all, it’s got to happen sooner or later.

Earlier forecasts of possible winter precipitation on or near Christmas Day were initially downgraded to dry and cold. Now, that’s been changed again and freezing temperatures have been removed from the forecast. The mercury is now expected to reach 53 degrees on Christmas Day after an overnight low on Christmas Eve just above freezing. Christmas night is expected to be a few degrees warmer than the night before.

So much for the fleeting hopes for a “white Christmas” that were briefly stoked when a couple of inches of the white fluffy stuff fell on San Marcos and surrounding areas Dec. 7 and remained on the ground for several hours after daybreak on Dec. 8.

It was the most snow the local area had seen in more than three decades. Between Jan. 11-13, 1985, some areas of Central Texas received up to 14 inches of snowfall in three separate events. San Antonio got 13.5 inches, Del Rio received 8.6 inches and the San Marcos area saw around 10 inches.

“While we’ve all heard the joke about Texas only having two seasons — hot and hotter — all Texans need to prepare now for the serious threats that the upcoming winter could bring,” DPS Steven McCrew said. “Every year, Texas faces the dangers of winter weather conditions, including freezing temperatures, ice, sleet and even snow. Texans are urged to stay informed about changing weather in their area and take steps now to help stay safe during the coming months.”

That includes winterizing vehicles by checking battery, windshield wipers and fluid, tire pressure and tread and lubrication of door and truck locks.

The DPS also recommends keeping the following supplies in vehicles:

  • Blankets/sleeping bags, extra clothing, gloves and a hat
  • Cell phone, radio, flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit and pocket knife
  • High calorie, non-perishable food and bottled water
  • Bag of sand or cat litter to provide traction for tires
  • Windshield scraper, tool kit, booster cables, tow rope and shovel.

More tips for staying safe during winter weather include:

  • Monitor local weather broadcasts and follow up-to-the-minute weather conditions, at www.weather.gov.
  • Purchase an all-hazards weather radio for up-to-date warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information.
  • Sign up for your local emergency notification system.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained before any trip and keep your gas tank full.
  • On icy roads, drive slowly and increase distance required for stopping, and avoid using cruise control.
  • Watch for downed trees and power lines across roads. If power is out, treat all intersections as four-way stops.
  • Allow extra time when traveling in inclement weather.
  • Avoid traveling when sleet, freezing rain or snow is predicted, and monitor road conditions by visiting www.drivetexas.org or by calling 1-800-452-9292.
  • Insulate outside faucets and pipes near outer walls.
  • Make sure that furnaces, heaters, fireplaces and wood stoves are clean, well-ventilated and in good working condition.
  • To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, never operate generators and other fuel-powered devices inside a home or an enclosed space, such as a garage. The deadly odorless, colorless gas is produced any time a fossil fuel is burned, with sources including motor vehicle engines, generators and fuelburning appliances or heating systems. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Make arrangements for proper shelter and an emergency supply of food and water for your pets and livestock.
  • Stock up on firewood and supplies, including canned goods and bottled water.
  • If you will be away from home for a long period of time, set your thermostat to 55 degrees or higher and open cabinets under sinks.
  • Make sure you have inclement weather contact numbers for schools and work.
  • Check on friends and family members whose health or age may put them at greater risk from cold weather.

 During the winter season, residents can contact 2-1-1 Texas, the state’s free 24-hour helpline, to check on possible community-established warming centers or related services in their area. No matter where you live in Texas, you can dial 2-1-1 or 877-541-7905 for community resources.

 Visit the Texas Department of Public Safety's website for additional information and tips regarding winter weather preparedness.  

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666