Unseasonably warm weather once again gives way to unseasonable cold as an arctic front storms across the Highland Lakes and Central Texas late Wednesday into Thursday.
A high-level disturbance coming from the west could combine with the front for a wintry mix Thursday, Jan. 20, and create challenging driving conditions in some areas. Local officials are keeping an eye on the situation and will act accordingly if road conditions demand it.
“We will monitor the weather very closely,” said James Kennedy, Marble Falls Public Works director. “We will have crews on standby and (be) in communication with (the Texas Department of Transportation).”
Burnet officials are taking a similar stance.
“Our crews will be on standby, ready to respond to any needs that arise,” said City Manager David Vaughn.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures across the Highland Lakes should reach the upper 70s on Wednesday, Jan. 19, before the front moves in that evening, dropping lows into the low 30s and upper 20s. Winds will be in the 15- to 20-mph range with gusts up to 30 mph.
Thursday’s highs will top out in the upper 30s and lower 40s with mostly cloudy skies and a chance of sleet and ice before falling into the mid-20s that night. Friday will be a little warmer and sunnier with highs in the upper 40s and lows in the mid-20s.
Over the weekend, highs and lows should be in the 50s and 30s with mostly sunny skies.
Officials believe the ground temperatures will remain warm enough during the coldest days to ward off a buildup of ice or wintry mix but are concerned about bridges and overpasses. TxDOT might pre-treat the bridges on U.S. 281 and RR 1431. The city of Marble Falls will remain in communication with the state department, Kennedy said.
As of Tuesday, Jan. 18, Kennedy said his crew is in preparation mode “to make sure we are ready to respond in a timely manner.”
In Burnet, Vaughn said TxDOT does a great job of handling the state and federal roads through town, including U.S. 281, Texas 29, and FM 963, which frees up city crews to tackle issues on side roads and heavily trafficked areas such as the Ascension Seton Highland Lakes emergency room entrance.
Outside of the city, Burnet County officials will also monitor conditions.
“We keep an eye on trouble spots,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Damon Beierle. “We’ll respond accordingly.”
The county doesn’t have the specially equipped trucks to dispense sand and anti-icing agents like TxDOT, but it has spreaders that mount on the front of its trucks, which crews can use on trouble spots if needed.
“What worries me most about weather like this is when people get out when they probably shouldn’t,” Beierle said. “That’s my biggest fear.”
Though this front will be nothing on the scale of the February 2021 storm, officials are monitoring weather reports as it gets closer. Beyond driving, Highland Lakes residents can use the day or two leading up to the arctic front to check their own supplies. It’s a good idea to always have two to three days of food on hand as well as bottled water and batteries.