Winter weather has officially arrived in the Lone Star State.
The Panhandle is prepping for what looks like will amount to about two inches of snow later this week. And further south, the Hill Country got its first freeze warning with temperatures dropping into the low 30s.
Texans don’t always get a lot of practice with icy roads, but the last few years have brought a little more chill to the state.
So for the uninitiated, how can Texans best prepare for the chillier days still to come this season?
Matt Lanza, a meteorologist with Space City Weather in Houston, said he has started to compare preparing for winter in Texas to preparing for a hurricane.
“You want to have a few days of non-perishable food and some water on hand just in case we go through a situation where you’ve got water systems that have issues and you have to cook food or something like that without power,” he said. “You want to try and keep your gas tank generally full in your car whenever you can. You want to have some winter weather gear in your car just in case you’re out traveling and you get stuck in that.”
Good tools to keep in your car include a snow brush and an ice scraper.
“With your cars, you just have to kind of do your best not to go out when there’s snow, if possible, or ice on the ground,” he said. “When they put down treatment on the roads, that can sometimes impact your car. So you want to make sure that if you do go out traveling in winter weather where roads have been treated, get it washed as soon as possible afterwards to make sure that some of that stuff – that gunk that’s on the roads – doesn’t corrode parts of your car and cause you other issues down the line.”
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Lanza recommends weatherizing your house as much as possible in advance of any snow and ice.
“Wrap any exterior pipes. Turn off your irrigation systems and drain them, because you don’t want to get caught in a situation where you’ve got frozen pipes and you’ve turned the system off, but you haven’t drained it and you’ve still got water in the pipes, and then you have issues,” he said. “And I’m speaking from personal experience on that one.”
Another step people can take to stay safe? Stay off the roads when they’re slippery.
“If government officials are saying ‘we don’t want you on the roads,’ that’s probably a really good clue to just not do it,” Lanza said. “And even if you yourself think you’re a good driver or you’ve got experience driving in winter weather, it’s not going to be the same down here as it was wherever you lived previously, because it’s just not going to be cleaned up quite as quickly.”
Despite chillier days ahead, Lanza said Texans can expect a little bit of a warmer Christmas this year.
“We are in for a little bit of a warm-up, so I don’t think we have to worry about too much snow and ice this Christmas,” he said. “Last Christmas was quite, quite cold. But this year will be, we think, significantly warmer — whether that extends into New Years, we’ll see.”