by SEAN KIMMONS and BRAD ROLLINS
The arctic blast that has settled in across the region has yet to cause major damage or disruptions in local areas, but the brunt of the weather is not over as forecasters expect up to three inches of snow overnight.
A winter weather advisory has been issued for 6 p.m. tonight through noon Friday when a strong upper level low pressure system creeps in from the west late this afternoon and stays above the area overnight.
Forecasters say that the combination of the upper level low system and cold arctic air mass at the surface will result in light snow early tonight, increasing into the late night. Snow will continue into Friday morning.
“Snow between one to two inches is expected but it’s possible we could see as much as three inches,” said Steve Smart, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in New Braunfels.
He added that three to four inches of snow is likely in the southeastern counties, where a winter weather warning will be in effect around the same time frame. Even though the forecast doesn’t predict icy conditions, drivers are urged to use good judgment and care.
“We wouldn’t recommend traveling during the overnight hours,” Smart said. “If you do need to travel, allow extra time to reach your destination.”
San Marcos firefighters have worked a few accidents in the last 23 hours, Fire Chief Les Stephens said, but the wrecks were not obviously weather-related. The department is mobilized for problems caused by anticipated snow, but “right now it’s pretty quite on the home front,” Stephens said.
“We’ve taken proactive measures to be prepared if the streets do get bad. So far — knock on wood — it hasn’t been too bad,” Stephens said.
San Marcos Emergency Management Coordinator Ken Bell, likewise, said Thursday was quiet, especially compared to Wednesday when the city’s phones, website and computers were inoperable after a transfer switch exploded on a backup generator at City Hall. The outages also periodically shut down traffic accidents, snarling traffic at intersections here and there throughout the day.
“Our equipment is not accustomed to getting the extreme weather like it does in other parts of the country. When you go from 80 degrees from 19 degrees in 48 hours like we did, it kind of taxes the equipment,” Bell said.
Because snow, and not ice, is expected in coming days, Bell said he does not necessarily expect problems.
“All the drama was pretty much yesterday. Anything we get now is going to be pretty minor compared to what we had to do yesterday,” Bell said.
On Wednesday, powerful wind gusts of around 50 mph bombarded the area, knocking down trees and fences.
Rolling blackouts also plagued the area after the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) required San Marcos Electric Utility and other utilities statewide to reduce electricity demand, an order that ended Wednesday afternoon.
The area should reach a high of 28 degrees and a low of 20 today. The high on Friday is 37 degrees, with a low of 23. Warmer temperatures are predicted this weekend with Saturday in the upper 50s and lower 30s, and Sunday in the lower 60s and mid-30s, according to National Weather Service forecasts.