Freezing rain coming as frozen pipes reported in Killeen

A car drives on Central Texas Expressway in central Killeen Tuesday morning.

A weather expert said more freezing rain was headed to the Killeen area overnight Tuesday, and city officials are reporting water outages due to frozen pipes.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Jennifer Dunn said on Tuesday that freezing rain and possible sleet was expected to move in to the Killeen area between 9 p.m. and midnight tonight, possibly worsening road conditions this morning.

“We’re concerned that most of what you will get will be icing there,” Dunn said of the Killeen area.

The accumulation, potentially up to a quarter of an inch, will likely continue until mid-morning Wednesday. Temperatures today are expected to be in 20s and low 30s, with mostly cloudy conditions.

“We want people to prepare to be impacted by this through the end of the week,” Dunn said.

Dunn added that some relief from the cold temperatures is possible on Thursday, but more likely on Friday.

Texas Department of Transportation Spokesperson Jake Smith said that plowing efforts will focus on certain roads in Bell County.

“Our maintenance crews in Bell County will be primarily focusing on roadways that typically experience higher volumes of traffic,” Smith said by email on Tuesday. “Specifically, state highways, state loops, US Highways, and of course the interstate.”

In Killeen, Skyline Baptist Church, 906 Trimmier Road, is serving as the city’s warming shelter, and church spokesman Robert Wheat said by email on Tuesday that the number of people at the center has been fluctuating around 25, plus staff, police and volunteers.

That number increased to about 35 people by late morning, according to Killeen Mayor Jose Segarra, speaking by telephone from Skyline.

Segarra said that a second Killeen warming station, at Liberty Christian Center at 4107 Westcliff Road, was scheduled to open Tuesday afternoon.

“The warming center is opened up for families,” Segarra said, adding that he heard of a family, with a baby, in the Killeen area that had been forced to sleep in their car during the recent weather.

Although he is unsure if the city will be reimbursing Skyline and Liberty for their service as warming shelters, Segarra said they were chosen due to their volunteers.

“It’s easier to call up volunteers if you’re a church instead of the city,” he said.

In Copperas Cove, the city’s library is acting as the warming shelter. All of the warming shelters have been open 24 hours per day.

City Spokesperson Kevin Keller estimated about 30 people came and went from the warming center come overnight, with about 75 people present at the center as of early aftenoon on Tuesday.

The City of Harker Heights announced by email that they are opening a warming station at the Harker Heights Recreation Center at 307 Millers Crossing. Guests are asked to bring thier own blankets.

Water outages from frozen pipes

City of Killeen Spokesperson Hilary Shine said on Tuesday Water and Sewer Division is receiving a high volume of calls from customers reporting water outages.

“The majority of these outages are caused by frozen water lines on private property,” Shine said in a news release. “The prolonged harsh temperatures are freezing water lines, and this is expected to continue.”

Residents are advised that if a property is without water, a series of diagnostic steps should be used. If a faucet is not producing water when turned on, one should check all interior faucets. If any of the faucets produce water, it is likely that one or more water lines may be frozen.

If none of the faucets produce water, check with neighbors. If neighbors have water, it is likely that your pipes have frozen. If neighbors do not have water, notify the city of a potential water outage by calling 254-501-6320.

“It is important to remember that the city is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the water infrastructure up to the customer’s water meter,” Shine said. “The customer is responsible for the water service lines from the water meter to the faucets.”

The city’s Water and Sewer Division is experiencing an abnormally high call volume and is responding as quickly as possible. Residents are advised that if they are unable to speak with someone directly to please leave a message. Following the diagnostic steps listed above will help staff respond more quickly to issues with City-maintained water lines.

As temperatures rise, and pipes begin to thaw, residents are also advised check for any visible signs of interior or exterior leaking or ruptured pipes. If pipes have frozen, they may have ruptured which will cause leaking as they thaw.

If you find a leaking water service pipe, please call Water and Sewer to turn the water off to the property to minimize potential water damage. A licensed plumber will need to be hired to repair damage to the private service line.

AREA ROADS

State and local public safety agencies are advising against unnecessary travel on area roadways.

“I spoke to the Lampasas DPS sergeant and he advised that in his four counties they have had zero crashes yesterday,” Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Sgt. Bryan Washko said by email on Tuesday. “The highway here in Bell County as you know is still covered in snow/ice. IH-14 and IH 35 are still slow moving. DPS is strongly urging everyone to avoid all unnecessary travel until conditions improve.

TxDOT vehicles were seen plowing Interstate 14 between Belton and Killeen Tuesday, and some of the snow and ice had been removed. However, with more ice coming overnight Tuesday, it’s unclear what road conditions may look like this morning.

SCHOOL CLOSURES

The Killeen Independent School District announced Tuesday afternoon that it will be closed for the remainder of the week, according to a posting on its Facebook page, with a tentative plan to return on Monday.

“Extracurricular activities scheduled between today and Monday are currently postponed,” the posting said. “If able, teachers will continue to support students with optional enrichment activities on Seesaw and Schoology. Please have grace on your child’s teachers as they themselves may not be able to post optional activities due to unplanned weather-related power outages. Killeen ISD employees’ pay will be kept whole as a result of this extended closure and we want to remind our auxiliary/hourly staff that they should not be working from home.”

A final decision regarding any make-up days will be communicated at a later date.

Texas A&M University-Central Texas campus, will remain closed through Thursday due to the weather conditions and power outages, according to a news release.

“There are no services being offered on campus at this time,” the release said. “We request that employees work remotely as they are able.”

All on-campus classes and labs are canceled through the end of Thursday. Online classes will resume once network services are restored. Many departments have representatives available, but sporadic power and internet outages in the area could cause delays in responses from university faculty and staff, the release said.

Copperas Cove Independent School District is cancelling all classes, both virtual and on campus, Wednesday, according to the district’s Facebook page.

“All CCISD facilities will also be closed,” the posting said. “We recognize that this prolonged winter weather is impacting families across our community in many ways. We will continue to monitor weather throughout the week and will provide timely updates through our website, social media and email.”

Central Texas College also announced closures by news release on Tuesday.

“Due to continued power outages and inclement weather, all classes and operations at the Central Texas College (CTC) Central and Fort Hood campuses have been suspended through February 19,” the release said. “Campus access is unavailable and student appointments will be rescheduled. Service area sites in Fredericksburg, Gatesville, Lampasas and Marble Falls should follow the guidance of their local school districts. Also, the CTC Board of Trustees workshop has been postponed until Tuesday, February 22 at 12 p.m.”

Driving tips

Texas Department of Public Safety would like to remind drivers of these winter driving safety tips:

Slow down. Speed limits are based on normal road and weather conditions, not winter road conditions.

Maintain at least three times the normal following distance on snow or ice.

Watch carefully for snow removal equipment and stay at least 200 feet behind snow plows.

Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses and shaded areas as they tend to freeze first.

If your vehicle starts to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes. Steer into the direction of the skid until you have regained traction. Then straighten your vehicle.

Drive slowly and carefully.

Avoid driving while distracted.

Always allow for extra driving time.

Avoid using cruise control.

Move over or slow down for emergency vehicles. Emergency crews are overwhelmed and experiencing very dangerous conditions while working emergency scenes in this winter weather.

swilson@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7463

(1) comment

LIVE

Please turn on our power and give us some relief, Killeen.

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