Cold weather may cause power outages at UTSA and across region

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National Weather Service forecast through Friday, Feb. 4

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(Feb. 2, 2011, 2 p.m.)--UTSA is open. All offices, programs and classes at the UTSA Main Campus, Downtown Campus and Institute of Texan Cultures are open and operating on a regular schedule.

  • Because of the extremely cold temperatures and increased power demand, buildings on the UTSA campuses may be cooler than expected on Wednesday. Early Wednesday morning, the north and south thermal energy plants went offline because of the high steam demand; power was restored, but some campus buildings may be 5 to 6 degrees cooler than normal on Wednesday.
  • Additionally, UTSA has been advised that all customers on Texas' statewide power grid will be subject to 50-minute rolling black-outs. The university likely will be affected.

Because of the cold temperatures and spiked power usage, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has called a power emergency throughout Texas. CPS Energy and other Texas electric companies are being called on to help prevent blackouts in other parts of the state.

UTSA was notified by CPS Energy that it may be affected by rolling brown-outs lasting approximately 50 minutes today, as part of the state's emergency power contingency plan. Since the brown-outs result from spikes in electrical usage, it is difficult to predict what sector of the city will experience a power outage. Densely populated areas are most likely to be affected.

UTSA faculty, staff and students should conserve electricity throughout the day, so as not to further tax the system. Additionally, those working on computers should save their work regularly so as not to lose projects during a brown-out.

According to the National Weather Service (Austin/San Antonio), strong winds behind the cold front that arrived Tuesday will accompany the frigid air through Wednesday. In the San Antonio area, highs through Friday will be in the low 30s to low 40s and lows will be upper teens to low 20s.

As they continue to monitor the weather, the UTSA administration team always is mindful of the safety of the UTSA community, whether we are in an icy winter or the hurricane season.

Any time of year, whether there is excessive rain or ice, there are three venues through which the UTSA administration communicates the operational status of the university:

UTSA faculty, staff and students can call 210-458-SNOW (7669) at any time for information about the Tri-Campus community regarding the status of classes and employee work schedules. The extension can answer up to 138 calls at a time, but you may encounter a busy signal during peak usage.

In the advent of extreme weather, UTSA provides all area broadcast and print media outlets with the latest information in a timely manner. The university initially communicates with both WOAI Television and WOAI Radio.

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FAQ: UTSA weather closures

When does UTSA determine whether or not to close the campuses due to adverse weather?

When adverse weather occurs during the night, UTSA administrators make a decision as soon as possible but generally by 5 a.m. regarding whether or not to close the UTSA campuses. Subsequently, University Communications staff members continually update the 458-SNOW message and websites, and contact media outlets.

At other universities, they continue to have classes regardless of snow or ice. What criteria are used to close UTSA?

UTSA is committed to making the best decision concerning the safety of students, faculty and staff. In San Antonio, even a small amount of ice might create an unsafe situation, considering that students and employees travel to the university from various distances. For example, weather in the Hill Country may not be the same as in southern portions of Bexar County.

What if my situation appears dangerous, and I cannot determine whether or not UTSA is closed?

Individuals are encouraged to make a prudent decision about traveling to campus in consideration of the weather in their area.