TX Winter Storm

The Comal River. Photo by Joanna Bartonek

Both area public school districts will remain closed for the rest of the week as the final round of winter weather – bands of snowfall with accumulations of up to 3 inches in some South Central Texas areas – is expected overnight.

“Due to multiple conditions beyond our control, we are cancelling school for tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday as well,” said Randy Moczygemba, New Braunfels Independent School District superintendent.

“We continue to find additional issues with broken water lines and heat systems at our campuses. Rolling blackouts are also expected to continue through Friday. There is also a 50% chance of additional precipitation in the form of sleet and snow for Thursday night.

“Our thoughts are with you as you as deal with the issues in your own homes.”

The City of New Braunfels and Comal County announced closures of facilities on Thursday while still reeling from the effects of freezing rain that glazed over streets and highway overpasses throughout the region Tuesday night into Wednesday.

“Although driving conditions in and around New Braunfels have improved some, there are still many areas with unsafe conditions and everyone is asked to avoid driving if at all possible,” said David Ferguson, city communications coordinator. “For those that must be out on local roads, please do so with extreme caution.

“Avoid roads with bridges, overpasses, elevated surfaces, or those that are seldom used. Do not drive around barricades and please slow down.”

Comal County followed suit its closure announcement minutes later.

“Because tomorrow’s weather and road conditions are expected to be consistent with today, county offices will remain closed on Thursday,” said Cary Zayas, county public information officer, adding Thursday’s Commissioners Court meeting is also canceled.

“All items on the agenda will be considered at the next regularly scheduled commissioners court meeting on Feb. 25,” Zayas said.

The National Weather Service has predicted a 40% to 50% chance of sleet turning into snow overnight Wednesday into Thursday, with accumulations of 1 inch along the I-35 corridor and up to 4 inches in Hill Country areas west of New Braunfels.

Comal ISD Superintendent Andrew Kim said campuses will be closed Thursday and Friday. He said the district’s decision was not only based on the weather forecast but water damage sustained at several campuses.

“The weather forecast has additional freezing rain and snow moving into our area overnight and into Thursday morning making travel hazardous. We want to ensure that it is completely safe for our bus drivers and students before allowing them on the road,” Kim said.

“We know that many of our campuses have experienced significant water issues from broken pipes, both inside and outside of the buildings. Our maintenance crews will be working over the next several days to make repairs and get the building ready for students and staff to return on Monday.”

Kim added power “obviously continues to be an issue throughout our region, and we do not want to bring students and staff back until we know that the power issue has stabilized.”

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which controls the state’s power grid, said power is slowly being restored throughout Texas, which has had rolling blackouts in most areas since Monday.

Roads remained hazardous throughout the region on Wednesday, as law enforcement agencies and Texas Department of Transportation officials continued to ask that drivers stay at home even after roads unthawed as temperatures rose above freezing for the first time in 106 hours – just short of the 108-hour record set in 1951.

City facility closures for Thursday include City Hall, Das Rec, Public Library, Parks and Recreation administrative offices, Landa Park Golf Course at Comal Springs, Fischer Park Nature Center, Municipal Annex, City Recycle Center, and Westside Community Center.

“The city’s Solid Waste and Recycling Division is suspending residential and commercial collection for Thursday,” Ferguson added. “Plans for trash and recycling collection are being formed and will be announced soon.”

Laura Lopez, TxDOT’s San Antonio district spokesperson, said Wednesday that portions of Interstate 35, 410, Loop 1604 and other major venues remain closed, posted on electronic message boards up throughout the Alamo City.

“Avoid the highways as much as possible,” she said. “We had several entrance ramps that were closed and found that people were going through the barricades to get on the highway.”

New Braunfels Police Department and Comal County Sheriff’s Office repeated Tuesday’s request that residents not report ongoing power outages.

“CCSO and NBPD 9-1-1 centers have been receiving a lot of calls from those who are asking for an update about power being restored or from those who are unhappy that their power is out,” their joint Facebook post said. “The volume of those calls could get in the way of someone in a true emergency being able to reach an emergency dispatcher.

“If you are in need of emergency assistance due to an ongoing power outage, please do not hesitate to call 9-1-1. Questions or complaints about ongoing outages can be answered by New Braunfels Utilities or other electric service providers.”

The NWS pegs Thursday’s high at 33 degrees and a low of 19, with mostly sunny conditions Friday and Saturday. It said temperatures should rebound into the mid 40s on Friday and the mid 50s on Saturday.

“We know that this past week has been stressful for all our families as we all have been dealing with loss of power, heat, and water,” CISD’s Kim said. “As the weather gradually warms, our attention will turn to fixing broken pipes, restocking our pantries, and getting things situated back to normal.

“We want to make sure you have plenty of time to take care of your situation, whatever that may be. So please, continue to stay warm and safe, and we will see you on Monday.”

Residents can stay up to date with emergency information by visiting links to public school districts (nbisd.org and comalisd.org), city of New Braunfels (nbtexas.org) and Comal County (co.comal.tx.us), and associated Facebook and social media pages. For highway road closure information, visit drivetexas.org or call 800-452-9292.

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