AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As whiteout conditions cover much of Texas, the state’s department of transportation is monitoring the elements to keep highways safe to drive.
Some areas of Texas reached nearly a foot of snow on Wednesday. Roughly eight inches fell in parts of the Permian Basin, three to eight inches came down in the Texoma region, and up to ten inches fell west of the Big Country.
What became a snow day for some with widespread cancellations and closures, means Michael Lee and his team are kicking into gear.
“Plowing, moving assets around, moving people around and trying to take care of the public,” Lee said.
TxDOT has approximately 600 snow plows in place across the state, primarily in North Texas and the Panhandle, ready to help communities dig out.
“For example, this morning the Amarillo area didn’t need their snowplows, so they started moving,” Lee said. “They plowed through the Lubbock area and down to Interstate 20.”
The agency has a three-tiered system for tackling Texas roads. The first tier is major roadways, second comes local roads that are high priority, and third are other roads that may be less traveled.
TxDOT has employees working in emergency operations centers at the regional level to work alongside local agencies.
“All emergencies begin at the local level and end at the local level,” Lee said. “It’s not a statewide effort right now, but certainly two-thirds of the state have been involved in this event over the last couple of days, so those partnerships are really critical.”
According to the agency, 3,700 people have called in to the road conditions hotline. TxDOT also has a website, DriveTexas.Org, to help drivers track conditions.
“If you don’t have to drive, stay home,” Lee said. “If you do drive, through rough conditions, pay attention.”
“100% of your efforts should be on driving and getting off the road as soon as possible,” he added.
Lee’s big concern moving forward is freezing moisture on roads as temperatures tumble.