Central Texas prepares for possible winter weather

It's cold. Really cold.

So cold we might get some winter weather. So TXDOT's Kelli Reyna says they're ready for it if it comes.

"Right now TXDOT is in a 24 hour operation. And that means that we have crews in the office working 12-hour shifts so we'll have a day crew and a night crew," Reyna said.

Reyna says Thursday night, they only had to do some pre-treating and no ice ever formed on roads. They're hoping that will be the case Friday night.

"In some areas we're going to go ahead and pre-treat depending on how imminent that precipitation is and in some areas we're going to be ready to respond so we can go ahead and put a granular magnesium chloride product down to help to break up any ice that forms so that way we can stop it very quickly," Reyna said.

TXDOT says the best way to avoid any trouble on icy roads is to just stay at home.

But if you have to do some driving, they say do it slowly with the cruise control turned off using smooth steering movements.

Put a huge gap between you and the car in front of you.

Accelerate and brake gently using slow, steady strokes -- take those turns slowly.

Use extra caution on bridges, ramps and overpasses.

If you do end up skidding, don't panic! Ease your foot off the gas and carefully steer into the direction of the skid until you regain traction.

In addition to keeping the city's roads safe, the City of Austin is working hard to keep Austin's homeless off the streets in the low temperatures.

"We really can't afford to have anybody out on the street. It's just going to be too dangerous," said Mitchell Gibbs, the Executive Director of Front Steps.

Gibbs says Front Steps coordinates the emergency cold weather plan with the city, the office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, churches and the Salvation Army.

"If we're working with recreation centers or churches, we'll be putting people on buses and transporting them to those locations. The first thing in the morning we pick them up and bring them back here," he said.

April Diaz has been keeping warm at a downtown church. She's grateful.

"I'm very thankful to God that we're getting help because we're not staying out here. The ones that stay out here are the ones that choose to stay out here. But there's churches that are helping people in the cold weather shelter," Diaz said.

Driving in Winter Weather

-Drive slowly, with cruise control turned off and using smooth steering movements. It's harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface.

-Increase your following distance to allow plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead.

-Accelerate and brake gently using slow, steady strokes to test traction. Approach turns slowly.

-Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas, as they tend to freeze first. If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering into the direction of the skid until you regain traction.

Driving in Heavy Rain/Flood-Prone Areas

-Never attempt to drive through flooded roadways. It takes only two feet of water to float a 3,000-pound car.

-Be cautious when traveling through flood-prone areas. Flash floods can come rapidly and unexpectedly -- within a few minutes or hours of excessive rainfall.

-Turn on your headlights and slow down, allowing extra distance for braking.

Driving in Fog

-Turn on your lights, including your hazard lights. Use low beam headlights and fog lights if you have them. Do not use high beams.

-Slow down and do not drive faster than your field of vision. Use windshield wipers and defroster to maximize visibility.

-Increase following distance to ensure enough stopping distance. When using your brakes, don't stop suddenly.

-Use the right edge of the road or roadside reflectors as a guide. If you cannot see, pull completely off the road -- preferably at a rest area or truck sto p -- and turn on your hazard flashers immediately.

TxDOT reminds drivers that they should be prepared for any type of driving condition as they travel around the state. Drivers are encouraged to check forecasts and conditions before hitting the roads.

TxDOT also says wearing a seat belt is one of the best steps people can take to protect themselves.

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