Cold snap could ice roads early next week

TxDOT says it will pretreat Austin area highways on Sunday, Jan. 14 in preparation for the possibility of ice and snow starting on Monday.


Weather forecasts calling for the possibility of snow and ice early next week has the Texas Deparatment of Transportation gearing up to pretreat area roadways this weekend while Leander ISD monitors the situation to determine if school schedules could be affected.

A number of meteorologists said on Friday that a cold front bringing the possibility of temperatures in the 20s should arrive Monday afternoon, Jan. 15 and conditions could continue through mid-day Wednesday.

Light rain is expected to accompany the front, creating the potential for a wintry mix — snow, sleet, or freezing rain. 

The National Weather Service forecast calls for sleet and freezing rain across most of Central Texas during that time frame, with the best chances for snow on Tuesday.

Leander ISD spokesperson Corey Ryan said on Friday afternoon that the district is monitoring the situation as well to determine what, if any, affects the weather might have on area children returning to school on Tuesday after the Monday Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

"If we get a report of inclement weather, our leadership and safety support teams will work with neighboring officials and the national weather service, and utilize our communications systems if there’s any need to change our instructional day or after school programs," said Ryan. "We expect a regular day, but we will continue to monitor."

Pretreating roads

TxDOT officials said the organization will begin pretreating Austin area highways  starting Sunday morning.

A release issued on Friday said that TxDOT will start pretreating activities on I-35 at 8 a.m. Sunday morning before moving on to other major highways in the region.

"Pretreating dry roads in advance of a storm discourages ice or snow from sticking to the pavement. Work teams and trucks will then be placed on standby to respond to snow and ice situations as the need arises," the TxDOT release said.

TxDOT provided the following tips to help motorists who need to drive during potentially icy conditions:

  • Use caution when driving over bridges and overpasses. These are the first to freeze.

  • Reduce speed and drive with caution. A vehicle needs at least three times more space to stop on a slick roadway. Do not apply the brakes suddenly, and avoid using cruise control, so that you can

  • respond better if you encounter slippery roads.

  • Slow down when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles, especially when their flashing lights are on. The law requires you to maintain a distance of at least 200 feet when approaching a deicing crews, and do not pass on the right. Visibility can also be reduced during winter weather conditions.

  • Be patient. Your trip time – including short commutes to work – could increase when adverse weather conditions exist. Also, keep to the main roads and avoid taking shortcuts through territory that may not have been plowed.

  • Winterize vehicles before traveling during adverse weather. Check fuel, tire, oil and antifreeze levels. Make sure heater, brakes and windshield wipers are working properly.

  • Check area weather conditions on radio or television before starting a trip.

For real-time roadway conditions, check DriveTexas.org