By Public Radio Staff
A rare winter storm has intensified across Texas, leaving icy roads and dusting the Permian Basin and the Big Bend region with snow.
The National Weather Service has placed all of Texas under a winter storm warning as a blast of arctic air moves into the south, dropping temperatures to record-setting lows.
On Sunday, some areas could see temperatures drop into the single digits but the National Weather Service predicts the region will see temps in the 20s and 30s before plummeting on Monday.
Ahead of the winter storm, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statewide disaster declaration and urged Texans to “heed the guidance of their local leaders and stay alert to changing weather conditions in their area.”
West Texas will likely see some of its coldest temperatures in over thirty years this weekend.
Dangerous cold will intensify on Sunday when temperatures are forecast to plummet across much of West Texas, including in Midland and Odessa and the Big Bend.
“It’s going to get very cold,” said Scott Kleebauer, a Midland meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “Do not go out Sunday and Monday. It’s going to be very chilly, especially Monday when wind chills are going to be below zero.”
In Midland and Odessa, the windchill on Monday will drop to -16, while in Alpine it will be -3.
Today is going to be very cold, make sure to stay inside and avoid long exposures to cold temperatures. Snow is expected today making travel very difficult so avoid traveling if possible. #TXwx #NMwx pic.twitter.com/1cnAYdADxK— NWS Midland (@NWSMidland) February 14, 2021
The National Weather Service is also forecasting a strong chance for snow throughout West Texas with the largest snowfall expected in the Northern Permian Basin and in higher terrains like the Davis and Guadalupe Mountains.
Most of West Texas won’t see temperatures above freezing until Tuesday or Wednesday.
With reports of multiple car wrecks along major West Texas highways, local officials are urging residents to stay off the roads and avoid traveling at all if possible. In the Permian Basin, there are multiple pileups between Ward and Midland counties, according to CBS7.
The Texas Department of Transportation is urging residents in the 12 counties that make up the Odessa District to stay off the roads. That includes Midland, Ector, Andrews, Reeves, Brewster and Presidio counties.
Whiteout and blizzard conditions are being reported on roads and the interstate between Odessa and Pecos. According to TxDOT spokesperson Gene Powell, I-20 is “virtually impassable to most vehicles.
In the Big Bend, Brewster County commissioner Sara Allen Colando wrote on Twitter that officials are working on opening the community center in Study Butte for “folks who need to get warm.”
With extreme-cold across Texas, the state’s power grid could see record demand as Texans crank up their heaters to try and keep warm. As of noon on Sunday, Oncor is reporting that thousands in the Midland-Odessa area are currently without power.The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs most of the state’s power grid, is urging Texans to reserve power usage through Tuesday to avoid possible rolling blackouts.
Marfa Public Radio will provide updates on the winter storm.
The station’s radio signal may be affected in some areas by freezing temperatures and ice accumulation on radio towers.
You can stay up to date by following Marfa Public Radio’s social media accounts and listening to a live stream at marfapublicradio.org.