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Winter storm aftermath: Houston wakes up to icy roads again as hard freeze continues

A hard freeze warning is in effect until 9 a.m. Friday. Ice was impacting Highway 290 and I-10 East in the early-morning hours.

HOUSTON —

THIS BLOG HAS BEEN ARCHIVED; VISIT THE FEB 19 BLOG HERE

Old updates follow

Another hard freeze came to the Houston area overnight and will last through the early-morning hours, but there is continuing good news about the electricity in our region.

As of 8 a.m. Friday, there were 8,100 CenterPoint customers in the Houston area still without power. That's a much smaller number than the days prior, although these poor residents had to deal with the bitter cold overnight.

Our team of experienced KHOU 11 meteorologists is tracking the freezing weather around the clock with some nicer weather on the way for next week.

RESOURCES

Friday updates

8:03 a.m. - If you must hit the roads this morning, be very careful on bridges and overpasses. Especially in the lanes near the shoulder. Yesterday's moisture has frozen again. Most of our surface roads are okay. Ice is a real problem in our northwestern communities.

As of this posting, ice is reported at:

  •   IH-10 KATY MANAGED LANE Eastbound After SH 6
  • IH-45 Northbound At WOODLANDS PKY/ROBINSON RD in Montgomery County
  • IH-69 Southbound At FOSTORIA RD in Montgomery County
  • SH-242 Eastbound At IH-45 in Montgomery County
  • SH-242 Westbound At IH-45 in Montgomery County
  • BELTWAY 8-WEST Southbound After US-290 NORTHWEST
  • Tomball Tollway Northbound At Northpoint Blvd
  • Tomball Tollway Southbound At FM 2920/ Waller-Tomball
  • SH-146 Northbound Between SH-225 to Missouri St
  • SH-225 Eastbound At SENS to SH-146
  • IH-10 Westbound Between Cane Island Pkwy
  • IH-10 Westbound Between EAGLE LAKE RD
  • IH-10 Eastbound At Cane Island Pkwy
  • IH-10 Eastbound At EAGLE LAKE RD
  • FM-529 Westbound At STEFKA RD to BRAZOS RIVER/WALLER-AUSTIN COUNTY LINE
  • FM-529 Eastbound At BRAZOS RIVER/WALLER-AUSTIN COUNTY LINE to STEFKA RD
  • FM-1887 Northbound At Stefka Rd to DIORIO RD
  • US-290 NORTHWEST Westbound At SH-99 Lanier Pkwy to Field Store
  • FM-1887 Southbound At DIORIO RD to Stefka Rd
  • SH-159 Northbound At BRAZOS RIVER/WALLER-AUSTIN COUNTY LINE to FM-3346
  • SH-159 Southbound At FM-3346 to BRAZOS RIVER/WALLER-AUSTIN COUNTY LINE
  • SH-6 Northbound At US-290 to CEDAR CREEK RD
  • SH-6 Southbound At CEDAR CREEK RD to US-290
  • SH-105 Westbound At LEE TURNER RD to PEACH CREEK
  • SH-105 Eastbound At PEACH CREEK to LEE TURNER RD

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12 a.m. - A hard freeze warning is in effect through 9 a.m.

Temperatures will be below freezing until late Friday morning.

Sub-freezing temperatures of 15 to 25 degrees are possible across portions of Southeast Texas. In Houston proper, temps will be in the 20s. Areas north will be in the teens. Protect your pipes, plants and most importantly - people and pets.

Thursday updates

9:41 p.m. - Harris County Sheriff's Office officials said they responded to an arson call at a church on Littlecrest. The church and an attached residence were on fire, but no one was inside.

8:45 p.m. - All outbound lanes of U.S. 290 were completely shut down starting at Bauer Road due to ice on the overpass.

6:59 p.m. - ERCOT said power restoration efforts will continue into Thursday night.

They said they have been able to balance generation and load on the electric system without issuing any additional outages.

“The generating units that were online this morning have remained on throughout the day,” ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin said. “With generation holding steady, we are hopeful that more generation will continue to become available.”

Additional outages might be necessary later tonight or Friday morning to keep the grid stable when the load increases.

Customers that remain without power likely fall into one of these three categories:

  • Areas out due to ice storm damage on the distribution system
  • Areas that were taken out of service due to the energy emergency load shed that need to be restored manually (i.e., sending a crew to the location to reenergize the line)
  • Large industrial facilities that voluntarily went offline to help during this energy emergency

4:55 p.m. - CenterPoint Energy provided an update on severe winter weather restoration efforts.

CenterPoint said it had restored power to about 1.3 million consumers in a 24-hour period. They expect to have the majority restored by the end of the day.

Click here for more information.

4:48 p.m. - City of Houston Water Distribution Sites:

District D, Council Member Carolyn Evans-Shabazz

  • Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church
    3015 N MacGregor Way, 77004
  • Bethel Institutional Baptist
    5530 Selinsky, 77048
  • Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist Church
    7817 Calhoun, 77033
  • St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church
    8309 Brandon Street, 77051

District F, Council Member Tiffany Thomas

Starting February 18 at 2 PM

  • Rios De Aceite Church
    12500 Corona Lane, 77072

Starting February 19 at 11 AM and February 20 at 9 AM

  • West Houston Assistance Ministries - WHAM
    10501 Meadowglen Dr, 77042

February 20 at 8:30 AM

  • Sewa Food Distribution
    Church at the Cross
    3835 S. Dairy Ashford, 77082

District K, Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum

  • Townwood Park
    3402 Simsbrook Drive, 77045
  • Fountain Life Center
    14083 S Main, 77035

4:30 p.m. -  A water distribution site has been set up for residents of the Bolivar Peninsula at the Crystal Beach Volunteer Fire Department at 930 Noble Carl Dr.

4:20 p.m. - Houston District B distribution sites:

  • St. Monica Catholic Church
    8421 W. Montgomery Rd.
    Houston, TX 77088
  • Greenhouse International Church
    200 Greens Road
    Houston, TX 77067
  • New Faith Baptist Church N.E
    8955 North Wayside Dr.
    Houston, TX 77028
  • Garden Oaks Church of Christ
    4926 North Shepherd Dr.
    Houston, Tx 77018
  • Kingdom builder Cathedral
    8146 East Houston Rd.
    Houston, TX 77085

Hot meals and water will be available at 770 Greens Rd. Thursday starting at 4 p.m., while supplies last. For more information, contact (281) 868-0774.

4:10 p.m. - The Galveston Marathon/Half Maraton set for this coming Sunday has been changed to a virtual event due to the weather emergency in the region.

3:30 p.m. - Galveston city officials said drinking water supplies are on their way to the island but don't know when they'll get there. Notices will be sent out when a distribution location is determined.

The City of Galveston's water tank supply is climbing and water pressure is increasing. More residents are expected to get their water back throughout the day.

The city is also providing public restrooms for residents who don't have water. They have been placed at 28 locations across the city. A full list can be found here.

About 27,000 CenterPoint customers remain without power in Galveston.

3:13 p.m. - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said there are no power outages in the state due to the grid's generator

2:47 p.m. - The Harris County Medical Examiner's Office confirms three people died due to hypothermia amid the state's winter storm. 

2:46 p.m. - The Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office confirms nine weather-related deaths.

Galveston County weather-related deaths:

  • Two exposure deaths
  • One apparent carbon monoxide death
  • Four possible weather-related deaths

Brazoria County weather-related deaths:

  • one possible exposure death
  • one possible carbon monoxide death

The individuals have been identified as two women and one man. 

2:40 p.m. - Mavericks at Rockets scheduled for Friday at Toyota Center has been postponed due to weather.

2:20 p.m. - The Houston Zoo will remain closed through Sun., Feb. 21 and plans to reopen on Mon., Feb. 22.  

2 p.m. - CenterPoint said approximately 1.37 million customers have been restored and less than 25,000 customers remain.

1:59 p.m. - City of Houston sets up distribution sites for residents without power and/or water to get free bottled water. Full list here

12:49 p.m. - The Houston Texans YMCA and Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA will be open until 5 p.m. Thursday as warming centers:

  • Houston Texans YMCA - 5202 Griggs Rd, Houston, TX 77021
  • Harriet and Joe Foster Family YMCA - 1234 W 34th St, Houston, TX 77018

12:11 p.m. - Rooftop Cinema Club will open its drive-thru venue from noon to 6 p.m. Thursday for those who need to charge their electric devices, hop on Wi-Fi or in need of food/snacks. 

Guests will be allowed to use the free Wi-Fi and charge their devices for up to 45 minutes.

The Vegan Joint food truck will be on site handing out free meals while they last. 

10:04 a.m. - Texas Sen. Ted Cruz traveled to Mexico for a family vacation as his home state grappled with a weather crisis - read the latest here on this story as we learn more.

10 a.m. - Watch: ERCOT gives an update on the power outages:

9:58 a.m. - Highway 59/SW Freeway is now fully open in Fort Bend County after earlier closures due to ice, according to the sheriff's office

9:42 a.m. - Update from Sugar Land about the boil water notice in Greatwood: "Greatwood water pressure restored before noon Wednesday. Staff worked through night monitoring, flushing distribution system. Water technicians now collecting samples, transporting to approved lab for testing. Expect results Friday afternoon and may rescind Boil Water Notice then."

9:31 a.m. - It's dry overall in Houston (with some icing conditions on the NW and north side due to existing moisture) but Central Texas is picking up more wintry weather right now:

9 a.m. - More good news from CenterPoint: "As of 2/18/2021 8:59:54 AM, CenterPoint Energy reporting 39618 Customers without power. Next update in 10 Minutes. Due to the extreme weather, the entire Texas electric system is facing an unprecedented power shortage. ERCOT declared a statewide power generation shortfall emergency, asking us to reduce load through controlled outages which could last several more days. We stand ready to restore power as soon as it is available."

8:59 a.m. - Traffic update from Pasadena Police: SH 225 Is now open in both directions through the City of Pasadena

8 a.m. - The Hard Freeze Watch for most of the Houston area, especially inland areas, has now been upgraded to a Warning. It begins at 12 a.m. tonight. Read what this means and get more details here.

7:10 a.m. - CenterPoint Energy is reporting 47,446 customers without power in the Houston area. "Due to the extreme weather, the entire Texas electric system is facing an unprecedented power shortage. ERCOT declared a statewide power generation shortfall emergency, asking us to reduce load through controlled outages which could last several more days."

6:40 a.m. - 290 has reopened but be careful out there, especially on overpasses

6:20 a.m. -  Houston TranStar reports all westbound lanes of Highway 290 are blocked at Skinner due to ice on the road. It appears the HOV is also impacted. Be careful on roads, especially bridges and overpasses, north and northwest of Houston this morning. Some light moisture moved in yet again along with a light freeze. LIST: Highways/major roads impacted by ice in the Houston area

6:20 a.m. - Update from CenterPoint. Power outage numbers continue to fall drastically: "CenterPoint Energy reporting 46862 Customers without power. Next update in 10 Minutes. Due to the extreme weather, the entire Texas electric system is facing an unprecedented power shortage. ERCOT declared a statewide power generation shortfall emergency, asking us to reduce load through controlled outages which could last several more days."

5:20 a.m. - Update from METRO: "METRO will resume limited services on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021 for essential trips only. Bus service will operate on 15 METRO bus routes and along the three METRORail corridors from 10 am - 4 pm. Customers should expect possible delays/detours. More at http://ridemetro.org"

4:50 a.m. - Hobby Airport says it has partially restored water service to the facility (still under a boil notice), and flights will resume today. Whether you are flying out of Bush or Hobby, you should contact your airline to check your flight's status before heading to the airport.

Also, CenterPoint Energy is now reporting 114,000 customers without power, a decrease of about 9,000 from an hour earlier.

4:15 a.m. - "CenterPoint Energy reporting 122958 Customers without power. Next update in 30 Minutes. Due to the extreme weather, the entire Texas electric system is facing an unprecedented power shortage. ERCOT declared a statewide power generation shortfall emergency, asking us to reduce load through controlled outages which could last several more days. We stand ready to restore power as soon as it is available."

ERCOT says if there are additional outages moving forward, the should be much shorter than before. They said the best-case scenario is that any rotating outages would be limited to 20 to 30 minutes at a time beginning Thursday.

Even as the power comes back online, many communities in our area remain under a boil water notice (view list) — including all of the City of Houston, where water pressure remains very low.

Credit: KHOU 11
CenterPoint outage map as of 4 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021

12:50 a.m. - According to CenterPoint's power outage map, less than 175,000 customers remained without power, a number substantially lower than it has been.

12:25 a.m. - Texas Department of Transportation crews worked through the night to make the roads in Houston as safe as they could.

While they were treating the roads, officials still urged residents to stay off the streets due to the conditions.

Wednesday updates

10:38 p.m. - CenterPoint Energy reports 467,085 customers are without power in the Houston area.

7:40 p.m. - CenterPoint reports their most updated customer outage count as of 7 p.m. is 959,000.  

7:27 p.m. - As millions of Texans have been without electrical power – sometimes for days – public outrage has grown. Due to concerns about possible safety threats, state officials confirmed that they pulled down most of the ERCOT webpage that revealed photos and biographies of each board member.
Read more.

7:00 p.m. - With so many people dealing with power outages and the loss of water, Houstonians searched stores for necessities. That's when the Harris County Sheriff's Office Public Affairs Officer witnessed something that will warm your soul. Read more.

6:33 p.m. - Harris County announced a new initiative today to fight price gouging. The current state of emergency makes it illegal to sell food or fuel, or lease lodgings at an exorbitant price. County attorney Christian Menefee added the State of Emergency also allows for increased fines; $10,000 to $250,000 per violation with another $250,000 added if the victim is 65 or older. How to report price gouging,

6:05 p.m. - The City Galveston says crews are working around the clock to get water back up and running in the city, and have restored water to some areas of the island. The City of Galveston's municipal utilities team continues to closely monitor the water supply and has crews deployed throughout the city repairing water mains. The City has started restoring water to areas served by the 30th Street pump station and the airport pump station, though many residents likely remain without water.

5:51 p.m. - CenterPoint Energy urges customers who have electric and/or natural gas service to immediately conserve electricity and natural gas over the next six hours, until midnight.

“This is an unprecedented situation for our communities in that the demand for electric and natural gas reached record levels simultaneously,” said Kenny Mercado, CenterPoint Energy’s Executive Vice President, Electric Utility. “We are ready to restore service to our customers. Introducing this demand too rapidly could result in additional service interruptions and safety risks for both electric and natural gas customers.”

4:28 p.m. - Gov. Greg Abbott says during a press briefing that "every source of power the state of Texas has access to has been compromised because of the ultra cold temperature or because of equipment failures." 

3:55 p.m. - Hard Freeze Watch for Southeast Texas goes into effect from overnight Thursday into Friday. The watch is from 12 a.m. to 9 a.m.

2:55 p.m. - Update from Kelsey-Seybold: "In the best interest of our patients and staff, we have made the decision to close all in-person appointments, procedures and services on Wednesday, Feb. 17, and Thursday, Feb. 18, due to the continued concerns of infrastructure reliability, instability of utilities, and ongoing rolling blackouts. This includes all Kelsey-Seybold clinics, pharmacies, laboratories, diagnostic Services and COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing Sites." Appointments will be automatically canceled.

1 p.m. -  Statement on help from FEMA from The White House: "Our team and FEMA continue to monitor the situation in Texas, as well as other states in the storm's path that might be impacted. We remain in close contact with states across the affected area to ensure any federal support requirements are met. FEMA has supplied generators to Texas and is preparing to move diesel into the state to ensure the continued availability of backup power -- which of course is a major issue on the ground -- to key critical infrastructure including communications, hospitals, and water. FEMA is also supplying Texas with water and blankets at their request." Read more here.

11:40 a.m. - Due to ongoing power issues and the impact on many families, HISD’s schools and offices will remain closed through Friday, February 19. There will be no virtual or in-person learning. Employees will not report to work, unless informed by their supervisor. Additionally, all athletic events and food distributions for Friday and the weekend are cancelled. More school closures.

11:20 a.m. - HCA Houston Healthcare has announced that HCA Houston ER 24/7 on Palmer Highway in Texas City has temporarily suspended services due to water supply issues caused by the winter storm. HCA Houston Healthcare Mainland located at 6801 Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City and HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake in Webster remain open and offer emergency care services 24 hours a day.

Legacy Community Health clinics remain closed through Thursday.

10:40 a.m. -  AT&T is automatically waiving data overage charges for customers in 2,416 Texas ZIP codes through Sunday since so many people without power are relying on their phones.

Customers should know that they may still receive alerts that they’re going over their plan’s limits. Those are automated and the credit will be applied to their bills provided their billing addresses with AT&T are within the zip codes provided.

9:35 a.m. - The City of Houston has issued a boil water notice for the entire city. Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city must issue the notice once water pressure drops below 20 psi. He told City Council the city is doing everything they can to redirect water to hospitals and firefighters. He's asking residents to conserve water and telling stores to stock up on bottled water.

The City of Galveston is under Stage 5 water restrictions and is asking residents to conserve water. They say the island's water supply is "critically low." Major water line breaks and system failures caused by the ongoing freeze, have hampered the city's ability to provide water service.

9:20 a.m. - CenterPoint said ERCOT has directed them to again reduce electric system load. Customers should be make preparations now for possible additional outages. They added that they stand ready to restore power once there is sufficient supply to do so.

6:30 a.m. - The City of Sugar Land has now also issued a boil water notice for some residents. "Due to extremely low temperatures, increased demand, and prolonged power outages to critical city infrastructure, the City of Sugar Land is issuing a boil water notice for customers of its Greatwood Water System, effective immediately. The notice calls for all Greatwood customers to boil their water prior to consumption when the water pressure drops below 20 psi."  Read more from Sugar Land here. Residents across Southeast Texas are being asked to conserve their water and electrical use. View the list of water boil notices here.

6:20 a.m. - Important update from Harris County: "Nearly all parts of the county are experiencing low water pressure - or have none at all. Water utilities are struggling to operate in light of the state power issues. This will not improve until more power is restored."

5:50 a.m. - from ERCOT - an update on statewide electrical service: "Some generation is slowly returning. ERCOT was able to direct utilities to restore 600,000 households last night. 2.7 million households still do not have power."

5:40 a.m. - The City of Sugar Land confirms I-69/the Southwest Freeway has reopened. People are still advised to stay home, if possible. We have more cold rain sweeping through Houston with icy conditions likely north of town.

4:35 a.m. - The City of Katy has now also issued a boil water notice. Read more from Katy here. Residents across Southeast Texas are being asked to conserve their water and electrical use. View the list of water boil notices here.

4:20 a.m. - From the Harris County Sheriff's Office just now: "We are unable to receive calls on our non-emergency line (713-221-6000). We are working with AT&T to resolve the issue. If you have an emergency, please call 911." 

4 a.m. - KHOU 11 Meteorologist Chita Craft says there is some good news for the immediate Houston area this morning where temperatures remained too warm for any more ice accumulation. Areas north of town, like Conroe over to Brenham and College Station, could get some icing, however. Another round of wintry weather is sweeping through the state - in Houston, this will likely mean cold rain later today but no more sleet, ice or snow, which is good news for our road conditions. Watch the forecast here.

3 a.m. - The City of Webster has now also issued a boil water notice. Residents across Southeast Texas are being asked to conserve their water and electrical use. View the list of water boil notices here.

1:30 a.m. - The City of Galveston issued a boil water notice.

"Below freezing temperatures over the last two days caused water line breaks in homes and businesses to occur throughout the city, putting increased demand on the infrastructure and water supply system," the city said in a release.

Tuesday updates

8:36 p.m. - The City of Houston has asked residents to only use water for health and safety purposes.

The call comes as residents across the region have been experiencing low water pressure and even no water for the last day or so.

Several cities have issued boil water notices.

8:20 p.m. - The Harris County Fire Marshal's Office reports approximately 300 carbon monoxide related incidents. There have been approximately 100 in the City of Houston, 100 in Harris County and about 100 hospital walk-ups. They say this is a low estimate because they don’t necessarily get called to CO incidents.

RELATED: What is carbon monoxide poisoning?

7:10 p.m. - From Houston Office of Emergency Management: "Please do NOT drip faucets, this will cause lower water pressure. Houston's water system is different than other systems in that we don’t use water towers to provide pressure to the system. We use ground storage tanks and pumps. Some of this equipment is damaged by the weather."

6:00 p.m. - CenterPoint said ERCOT has directed them to again reduce electric system load. Customers should make preparations now for possible additional outages. They added they stand ready to restore power once there is sufficient supply to do so. 

5:54 p.m. - Fort Bend County Judge KP George said many of our local cities, water districts, and others in county will be issuing boil water notices for our residents. He ask that residents please follow these seriously. 

5:48 p.m. - The City of Sugar Land said there are no plans to shut off our water supply. This rumor being circulated is false.  

5:45: p.m. - METRO service suspension will continue through Wednesday.

5:20 p.m. - The City of Pearland has issued a boil water notice for all City of Pearland water customers due to low water pressure/loss of power at Water Production facilities.  

5:15 p.m. - Santa Fe police confirm they responded to three deaths that appear to be related to the cold. The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they responded to six deaths that appear to be related to the cold.

4:25 p.m. - Hobby Airport has reopened. Contact your airline for the current status of your flight. Departures curbside lanes are closed at this time so all traffic will be routed to the arrivals curbside. Terminal garages and Eco Park are open. Bush IAH says they'll reopen after 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

2:51 p.m. - With nearly 4 million Texans without power because of the winter storm that slammed Texas, demand for energy is historically high. The demand has exceeded the supply the state has to offer. As a result, the Public Utility Commission of Texas held an emergency meeting on Monday where officials introduced an order that would adjust energy prices, according to KVUE, our sister station in Austin. Read more.

2:00 p.m. - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says there is no boil water notice at this time. He explained the city is above the necessary pressure and will continue to monitor situations further.

The mayor pleaded with residents to stay off the roads this evening with freezing precipitation forecasted for the area tonight and the morning.

12:49 p.m. - Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says he as asked Downtown Houston Management District buildings that are not being occupied to please cut off their lights and conserve energy. He added that we can not cut all power off as individuals are staying in hotels and about 800 people are staying in the GRB.

>>See previous updates<<