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NWS issues wind chill warning; residents asked to conserve water due to power outages

E-T staff report
National Weather Service Fort Worth

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth has issued a wind chill warning until noon Tuesday for much of central and northern Texas, including Erath County.

During this time of extreme weather, city utilities are being stressed and the city of Stephenville is asking all residents to "immediately and actively" conserve water.

Power outages have affected the city's wells and pump stations. Until power is restored, the water system will struggle to meet demand.

"Please conserve water. Please do not wash laundry or dishes and keep bathing and bathroom use to a minimum," the city statement reads.

While the winter storm warning expired earlier today, dangerously cold temperatures remain in the area with wind chills as low as 20 below zero.

The cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

According to WFAA.com, rotating outages are underway and started at 1:25 a.m. Monday. Residents were initially told to expect to lose power for 15 to 45 minutes, but that has now been "significantly extended," Oncor officials tweeted just after 9 a.m.

Oncor is advising Texans that they may also experience multiple outage rotations. 

"If you are in the Oncor service area (which is most people inside the city limits) then go to their website to check and report your outage or check the status of the outage," the Stephenville Police Department notified residents via its Facebook page. To report an outage or follow the extent of the rolling outages, visit stormcenter.oncor.com

During these extreme cold temperatures, some local business owners have offered their places of business as shelter for those experiencing issues with heating their homes.

According to a post on the Erath County Sheriff's Office Facebook, VW Stephens, owner of the Purple Goat and City Limits, advised that during this time of extreme cold he has opened the doors of City Limits as a shelter for anyone needing a warm place to stay.

"If you go there you will need to provide your own bedding, toiletries and meals during your stay. Thank you Mr. Stephens," the post states.

Also 4 Elite Roofing, US Hwy 377 South next to Kubota, "has also opened room for a shelter during these extreme weather conditions. They also have limited shelter space in a heated shop for accommodations for pets," a social media post reads.

During this wind chill warning, residents are asked to avoid outside activities if possible. When outside, make sure you wear appropriate clothing, a hat, and gloves.

Travel will continue to be very difficult, if not impossible, through the period with ice-covered roads. The strong winds could also result in blowing and drifting of snow creating near white-out conditions with visibility less than 1 mile at times.

The Erath County Sheriff's Office has reported some areas of ice buildup with 2-3 inches of snow on some county roads, making travel extremely difficult.

The Stephenville Police Department, Erath County Sheriff’s Office, Dublin Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and Tarleton State University Police Department provided the public with the following winter weather safety tips: 

• Stay indoors during the worst part of the extreme cold.

• Keep a winter survival kit in your car if you must go somewhere.

• Learn how to shut off water valves for potential pipe bursts

• Trickle water through pipes to increase heating and crawl/ceiling spaces to prevent freezing.

• Check on the elderly.

• Bring pets inside.

• If you must go outside, wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.

• Wear a hat.

• Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold air.

• Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.

If you have questions or need assistance call the police department at (254) 918-1273. If it is an emergency, dial 9-1-1.  

The latest road conditions for Texas can be found at drivetexas.org.

For additional information, visit www.weather.gov/fwd/