603 Communication of Snow Events in South-Central Texas

Tuesday, 8 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Kristina Deleon, Univ. of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX; and G. J. Mulvey and T. Springer

South central Texas lies at the southern edge of the normal snow area for the United States. Snowfall in the San Antonio area greater than a trace, is observed on the average once every 4 years. So for residents of San Antonio any snowfall is an unusual event. The memories of how to deal with a snow event have just about faded from memory when the next “unusual snow event occurs”. This presentation will focus on the TV communication broadcasts outside of traditional weathercaster briefings and the internet postings that were used to convey the gravity of the situation to the populace in the San Antonio region for one of these unusual events.

The event selected for this presentation was the 7-8 December 2017. The meteorology event was described in detail in the Austin/San Antonio Weather Forecast Office, Weather Event Summary[1].

The results of this “light snowfall” however were extensive. They included:

  • “Slick conditions after a night of snow and freezing temperatures likely contributed to a multi-car pileup along a ramp at Loop 410 and Jackson Keller on Friday morning, Dec. 8, 2017. At least 15 cars were involved in a massive pileup on the Loop 410 ramp near Jackson Keller that caused slowdowns for Friday morning commuters on the North Side, according to police on scene.”[2]
  • And on December 8th, “4:45 a.m.: Nearly 18,000 CPS Energy customers are without power at this time. The bulk of those outages are along the north and northeast sides of San Antonio.”[3]
  • “More than 90 outages, including a medium-sized cluster in Alamo Heights, are being reported throughout the city as of 9:30 a.m., according to the CPS Energy Outage Map. CPS Energy spokeswoman Nora Castro said high winds that blew through the San Antonio area overnight could be causing tree branches to fall into power lines, prompting outages. Those are just some variables that could be affecting these outages,” Castro said.”[4]

While the weathercasters can talk about 1-2 inches of snow, the work of the TV News reporters to show the magnitude of the impact of such a snowfall is likely the longer lasting and meaningful element of the joint weather communications effort. This provides the information people can use to cope with such events.

[1] Austin/San Antonio Weather Forecast Office, WEATHER EVENT SUMMARY, December 2017 Snow Event, South Central Texas.

[2] SAPD: Icy road causes 15-car pile up on Loop 410 ramp near Jackson Keller, Fares Sabawi and and Caleb Downs, mySanAntonio.com Updated 8:57 am CST, Friday, December 8, 2017, San Antonio Express News, https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/traffic/article/Icy-road-causes-car-pile-up-on-Loop-410-ramp-12415676.php Accessed July 27, 2018

[3] 20 Vehicles Involved in Massive Highway Crash, Fox 29 News, Sinclair Broadcasting Group San Antonio, Friday, December 8th 2017, https://foxsanantonio.com/news/local/icy-conditions-ramps-closed-at-hwy-281-and-loop-1604 Accessed July 27, 2018

[4] Thousands without power in San Antonio, CPS Energy crews working to restore service, Kolten Parker Updated 9:29 am CST, Thursday, December 8, 2016, San Antonio Express News https://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Thousands-without-power-in-San-Antonio-CPS-10782753.php Accessed July 27, 2018

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