Following a brief warm-up today and early Wednesday afternoon, we are tracking our next blast of Arctic air set to bring yet another threat of ice and snow.
The cold air is forecast to arrive late Wednesday afternoon. As a storm system approaches Texas from the west, moisture overriding the cold air will increase cold rain Wednesday evening–eventually turning to freezing rain and sleet in many communities along and west of I-35.
Current National Weather Service forecasts indicate a 40-50% chance of accumulating ice on elevated roads in the Austin metro area early Thursday.
Here’s what our partners at the National Weather Service in New Braunfels have to say:
…Another round of frozen precipitation is possible Wednesday evening through Thursday morning…
Area of Concern:
Cold Arctic Air - All of South Central Texas
Frozen Precipitation - Mainly the Hill Country, areas northwest of San Antonio, and northern parts of I-35 corridor including the greater Austin metro area (Travis and Williamson Counties).
Threats & Impacts:
Ice Accumulations: There is a high likelihood that areas of the Hill Country will see ice accumulations. It is too early to tell exactly how much. As in the previous winter events the past several weeks, areas farther east including the I-35 corridor will have a threat for icing but temperatures may not be cold enough to support widespread ice development outside of bridges and overpasses. Stay tuned, that could change.
Impacts: Mainly travel impacts expected at this time. Bridge/overpasses closures, some ice on less traveled roads. Numerous traffic accidents. At this time we are not expecting widespread power outages.
Timing and Overview:
- 6 PM Wednesday through Noon Thursday.
The next front will arrive in South Central Texas Wednesday Afternoon with an arctic airmass behind it. Temperatures will fall behind the front with the Hill Country reaching freezing around 9 pm Wednesday. Northern Portions of the I-35 corridor will fall below freezing shortly after midnight…this includes the Austin metro area. An upper level storm system will create high precipitation chances Wednesday morning through Thursday morning. Due to the upper level winds we will get more lift with this weather system than previous systems, so some scattered thunderstorms will be possible during the day Wednesday before the front arrives.
Based on our current forecast a Sleet and Freezing Rain mix will begin across the Hill Country Wednesday night stretching from a Del Rio to San Antonio to Giddings line by midnight. This will then transition over to a sleet and snow mix by Thursday morning for areas north of Highway 90. As in past events the best chance for ice accumulation and impacts will be in the Hill Country and along the northern I-35 corridor where temperatures will be coldest. Temperatures are expected to warm above freezing by noon on Thursday and rain chances begin to taper off Thursday afternoon.
The question of just how much precipitation will fall, the exact type of precipitation, and just how far south the freezing line will get, are all still questions that are being fine tuned with each forecast package. As in past events this year, far southern and eastern areas will likely just see cold rain, western and northern areas (higher terrain) will probably get some ice, and areas in the middle (I-35 from San Antonio to Austin) will be stuck in the middle and could go either way. In cases like this, many times I-35 is literally a dividing line…colder air and ice chances in the hills, and cold rain east of I-35. Where it is forecast to be cold enough…such as the Hill Country, we can expect some ice formation especially on exposed surfaces like bridges and overpasses.
Watch the forecast closely over the next few days…there will likely be adjustments to the above forecast information. There is a high likelihood that portions of the area will be under some sort of winter weather advisory/watch/warning during this Wed Evening - NoonThu time frame.
Arctic Air – High
Frozen Precipitation Amounts/Area - Moderate
Currently, forecast low temperatures in Austin will support patchy, but not widespread, icing during the Thursday morning commute. Stay tuned for updates on KXAN, KXAN.com, and our free KXAN Weather app on your smartphone.