Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge, Stephens County brace for winter weather; local preparations underway

Breckenridge, Stephens County brace for winter weather; local preparations underway
February 01
15:32 2022

By Tony Pilkington / Breckenridge Texan

With overnight temperatures expected to drop into the mid-teens by Wednesday night, Stephens County Judge Michael Roach, who also serves as the county’s emergency coordinator, held a conference call on Monday with local agencies and officials to discuss the upcoming winter storm.

Roach said the call was an effort to try and plan on what to expect and be prepared just in case they face any problems like the community did last February during Winter Storm Uri. The storm last year caused a state-wide power grid failure and contributed to at least 210 deaths, and sources cited by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimated the state’s storm-related financial losses would range from $80 billion to $130 billion.

During the call, each of the agencies gave a quick overview of what steps they are taking to prepare for the storm. Participants on the call included Jeremy Robinson, Texas Department of Transportation Maintenance Section Supervisor for Stephens County; Breckenridge Interim Fire Chief Justin Reed; Brian Roland, CEO Stephens Memorial Hospital; Dr. Cynthia Perry with Resource Care; Stephens County Sheriff Kevin Roach; Breckenridge Police Chief Bacel Cantrell; Tim Gulbranson with AMR Emergency Services; Breckenridge Mayor Bob Sims; Breckenridge City Manager Erika McComis; and BISD Superintendent Bryan Allen.

Road Preparation

Jeremy Robinson, with TxDOT, said they will start getting ready for the storm by pre-treating all of the tier-two roads in the county with brine. He said those roads include U.S. Highway 180, U.S Highway 183 and parts of State Highway 67.

Additionally, he said, they will have all their equipment and materials ready and that they will start shift work with crews beginning at midnight on Wednesday morning and will have workers in the field 24 hours a day until the weather event is over.

Current information on road conditions in the state can be found at the TxDOT website DriveTexas, as well as on the agency’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Warming centers

Michael Roach said the County is prepared to open a warming center again if necessary but that they don’t anticipate having to do that at this time.

“We don’t expect that,” he said. “Hopefully the power stays on. This is not going to be as many days, it looks like, for that kind of cold weather. So we’re hoping that that doesn’t happen…So hopefully, we don’t have a situation where the lights go out.”

He said he has reached out to First United Methodist Church about using their Community Life Center and they also have the Lighthouse Church available again on the east end of town. He said last time the church’s power stayed on because it’s on part of a critical infrastructure since it’s right down the street from a nursing home.

Last year, the Salvation Army spent over $14,000 in housing costs during the February storm, Roach said, and he hopes that isn’t necessary this year.  However, he said, if someone is homeless and out on the street, they can go to the Police Department and they will evaluate their needs.

“We prefer they do this: if someone is in a situation where they’re homeless or out on the streets, and it’s going to be very cold for them, they can go to the police department, and then we’ll take that on case-by-case basis, how we house them,” he said. “But again, we really don’t want to go down that road if there is no power failure.

“If there is a power failure, then we will take the necessary steps. We’ll be ready to house folks, if that becomes necessary,” he continued. “If it’s just intermittent, or you have a few people that are affected, we might just put them in hotel rooms for a day and go from there… if it becomes widespread, we can open up a warming center or shelter if that becomes necessary.”

Homeless situation

Police Chief Bacel Cantrell said on Tuesday, they would begin checking on the people they normally help out during these types of situation.

“We’re going to start doing our checks (Tuesday),” Cantrell said. “We’re going to go by their normal places and see who’s all living in what places that we normally check on. If anybody’s moved, then try to locate all the ones we generally help during these times. We just want to make sure we have an address down for sure.”

School Situation

BISD Superintendent Bryan Allen said the district has a lot of extracurricular activities scheduled for either Thursday or Friday. They will just have to play it by ear at the time, he said, depending on how much snow accumulation there is and how much ice is on the roads.

“I mean we’re going to be ready to shift and move, or we’ll be ready to carry on as usual, but it’s gonna be kind of a game-time decision for us,” he said.

Any decisions that are made will be pushed out to ParentSquare, on the district’s Facebook and Twitter pages and posted on the district’s website, Allen said.

Weather Forecast

According to the National Weather Service, Stephens County, along with several other north-central, central and northeast Texas counties, is under a winter storm watch, officially, from Wednesday evening through Thursday afternoon. The forecast shows a transition from rain to freezing rain to sleet and snow. Total snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches and ice accumulations of one-tenth to three-tenths of an inch are possible, according to the NWS.

The warning states that “power outages and tree damage are likely due to the ice. Travel could be nearly impossible. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute. The cold wind chills as low as 5 below zero could result in hypothermia if precautions are not taken.”

The NWS forecast for Breckenridge shows that after today’s high in the lower 70s, the overnight low will be around 40 degrees. On Wednesday, the high is supposed to be 43 degrees with a 90 percent chance of rain. The temperature is expected to drop to freezing by 5 p.m. with freezing participation — sleet then snow — overnight. There’s a 50 percent chance the snow will continue Thursday morning.

Thursday’s high is predicted to be 24 degrees with an overnight low of 13 degrees. The cold will continue on Friday with a high of 29 degrees and an overnight low of 11.  Saturday will warm up to a high near 40, but the overnight low will still be in the teens at 18 degrees. The slight warming trend will continue with Sunday’s high predicted to be 47 and Monday’s high expected to be 51.

Cutline, top photo: A truck heads south on State Highway 67 about 7 miles north of Breckenridge during Winter Storm Uri last year. The storm contributed to at least 210 deaths, and sources cited by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas estimated the state’s storm-related financial losses would range from $80 billion to $130 billion. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


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