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'Expected to get worse': Abbott stresses icy roads biggest threat this winter storm

"Anybody who needs to be out driving needs to be very cautious of the conditions because your eye may not be able to perceive the hazard that's in front of you."

AUSTIN, Texas — While many Texans may be concerned with the power grid, Gov. Greg Abbott stressed that the main cause of concern during this week's severe winter storm are the roadways.

"Driving conditions are extremely dangerous right now," Abbott said during a news conference Tuesday. He was joined at the state's emergency operations center in Austin by officials with TxDOT, ERCOT, Texas DPS and the Public Utilities Commission.

As of Tuesday, a Winter Storm Warning was extended until Thursday with the anticipation of freezing rain, icy road conditions and sleet.

"Because of icing, many roads in Texas will remain dangerous for the next 24-to-48 hours," Abbott said. "Be cautious, especially of black ice."

Black ice isn't like regular ice, Abbott explained. It's like a glaze of "invisible" ice that forms on surfaces like roads, sidewalks and driveways because of freezing rain or melting/re-freezing of snow, water or ice, according to AAA.

"Anybody who needs to be out driving needs to be very cautious of the conditions because your eye may not be able to perceive the hazard (black ice) that's in front of you," Abbott said.

READ MORE: Freezing rain turning Central Texas roads into sheets of ice

TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams echoed the governor's statement, saying the icing on the roads are "not only are they dangerous, but they are also very dynamic."

"There can be some very narrow bands... spots," Williams said. "It can create a false sense of security for motorists where they are driving along and then you hit an area where there may have been a band of ... freezing precipitation that can surprise motorists and create an even more hazardous condition."

Around noon, Abbott said about 1,600 roads were impacted across Texas because of these conditions. Williams aid these impacted roads expand from freeway sections, overpasses to even small roads in rural communities.

Williams asked the public remain patient as TxDOT crews work to get roadways back open safely.

"Conditions are dangerous and they are expected to get worse," Williams said. "Please don't get out on the roadways if you can make that occur."

Abbott also referred to drivetexas.org where you can learn about real-time weather conditions on roadways, as well as road closures.

If you must go out and drive

The TxDOT official stressed to make sure you are prepared in case something were to happen to you on the road over the next few days.

"Take plenty of fuel, water, blanket, coats," he said.

READ MORE: How to prepare your car for winter weather; what to make sure you packed

Steven McCraw, the director of of Texas DPS, said if you're stranded, check the back of your driver's license. There is a roadside assistance number you can call for help.

If there are injuries, McCraw said call 911.

McCraw said to also remain in your vehicle and get off the roadway during any emergencies because it's the "safest place to be."

Warming Centers

In addition to road conditions, Abbott said it is important for the public to be aware of any warming centers that are open in their local area.

As of Tuesday morning, there were over 60 warming centers open across the state of Texas.

6 News has a list of open warming centers in Central Texas here.

You can also check the Texas Division of Emergency Management website for local warming centers in your area if they are not listed within our article. 

Power Grid Concerns

When it comes to power, Abbott said there were about 7,000 local power outages across the state as of 11 a.m.

"Local outages are not a reason to say there's a problem with the power grid," Abbott stressed.

On Monday, ERCOT officials said the state has enough power supply to meet the demand expected Tuesday through Thursday.

READ MORE: ERCOT says grid will meet supply and demand during forecasted winter storm

"It is functioning very effectively as we speak right now and there's not any anticipated challenge to the power grid in the state of Texas," Abbott said.

The chairman for PUC, Peter Lake, echoed Abbott's statement and said reforms that were put in place as a result of the deadly 2021 winter storm "are working."

"They worked last winter. They worked in a record-setting summer last summer. They worked last month. They are going to work this week," Lake said.

Abbott said those experiencing any power outages should check with their local utility providers. Lake added to avoid approaching any power lines that may be downed from ice, as well.

Rewatch the news conference below:

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Updated school closures list: kcentv.com/closings


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