If you’re one of the nearly 9 million Texans expected to travel this holiday season, chances are good you’re heading to visit family or friends in another part of the state. To help you prepare, we’ve compiled local weather forecasts, travel tips and advice from some plumbers in Houston on how to protect your pipes while you’re away.
The takeaway? It’ll be cold pretty much everywhere you go, but the chances of precipitation – snow and ice – are very low to nonexistent, and experts suspect the power grid will hold up as a result.
What’s the weather like where you’re heading?
If Central or South Texas is your destination, pack lots of warm clothes. Subfreezing temperatures are expected to hit Thursday night and last through the weekend, and it’ll be windy. But unlike the deadly winter storm of 2021, this arctic front won’t bring any moisture with it, so road conditions should be decent (although we can’t promise I-35 won’t be congested).
Heading north? The D-FW area will also see subfreezing temperatures and no precipitation through the weekend. It won’t get warmer than the 40s through Sunday.
The arctic front will hit Southeast Texas by Thursday afternoon, and temperatures will hover between the 20s and 40s through the weekend.
Out west, temperatures will drop hard and fast Thursday, and the wind chill will push temps into the negative Friday in Midland.
How should you prep your house, pipes and plants before you leave?
Plumbers advise turning off the water main to your home and opening the faucets inside to empty pipes. It’s not foolproof and may be a bit extreme, but science is still on your side.
“When you drain your system, you never get all of the water out, so there is a chance something crazy could happen,” John Eccles with Nick’s Plumbing in Houston told Houston Public Media. “But water expands when it freezes, so that’s what happens when we don’t drain it.”
If your plumbing is on an exterior wall, “open up the cabinets and it takes the ambient air of the home and helps it to stay under the cabinet to keep the pipes warm,” David Robbins, a plumber in Houston, told HPM. “That’s a really good idea. I highly recommend doing it.”
While your interior pipes should weather the storm, Robbins said exterior pipes and openings need to be covered.
“Exposed piping like hose bibs, water connections, valves, irrigation systems, they need to be protected,” he said.
Here are some tips on protecting your pipes (and plants!), courtesy of KUT in Austin.
Will the heat and power stay on this time?
Unlike during the 2021 winter storm, the power grid is expected to continue functioning because “temperatures will be slightly warmer [than they were that year], no significant precipitation is forecast, and the extreme cold (for Texas) is not expected to last for days on end,” according to KUT.