As everyone who accesses a local news source or talks to other people now knows, Austin is expected be chilly, rainy, and possibly freezing, over the next few days—particularly on New Year’s Eve.
Local NBC affiliate KXAN predicts that temperatures in the city, which are already dropping as the Arctic blast affecting much of the country moves in, could reach as low as 29 degrees, with a wind chill factor of 19 degrees, by midnight Sunday, Dec. 31. The station also reported that there is 20 percent chance of rain/freezing rain and a low of 26 degrees forecast for late Sunday night and early Monday morning.
Yes, warnings about those temperatures are laughable for more frigid parts of the nation, but Austinite are notoriously bad at dealing with wet, cold weather—especially when we have to go outside and/or drive in it.
City spokeswoman Alicia Dean told the Austin American-Statesman Thursday that the event will likely proceed if weather issues are limited to just cold temperatures. However, any “extreme weather conditions”—which in Austin’s case means pretty much any freezing precipitation—would likely cause the vent to be canceled.
Celebrations will not be limited to the city’s New Year’s Eve party, of course. Whether you’re heading out to shindigs, clubs, or other miscellaneous events—or even staying home—here are some tips for surviving what could be the Great Austin Freeze of 2017-18.
It’s not like it never snows here.
- Let’s start with an obvious one: Do not drive after drinking or get in a car with a driver who has been drinking (and try to get them not to drive if possible). There are plenty of other options: Capital Metro will offer free rides on MetroBus, MetroRapid, MetroRail, and MetroAccess after 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, and rail service, MetroRapid buses, and Night Owl routes will all be running until 2:30 a.m. (3 a.m. in the case of the latter). There are also the usual taxis, ride services, and designated-driver services, and the city will allow people to buy overnight parking at meters and will waive tickets for people who made responsible decisions not to drive when they’ve been drinking. Learn more about your transportation options here.
- When venturing outdoors, wear dry, warm clothing; cover exposed skin; don’t forget your hat, hood, scarf, and gloves; and try to keep your fingertips, nose, and earlobes covered.
- Limit alcohol consumption—believe it or not, it increases your chances of hypothermia since it impairs your judgement, thus rendering it more difficult to appropriately remove yourself from a cold, wet environment. (So if you were planning on a New Year’s Eve bender, maybe rethink that decision.)
- Staying home? Think about checking in on neighbors, friends, and relatives, especially if they are elderly or disabled or suffer from medical conditions.
- Austin Energy can be dicey with even the lightest of precipitation, so it’s not a bad idea to have emergency phone numbers for power outages on hand at home.