HOUSTON - Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said Monday that he hopes Houston-area drivers learned their lessons last week and will heed warnings from himself and other officials to avoid driving Tuesday, unless completely necessary.
“I think the storm last week actually benefits us because there were people who said, ‘oh this isn’t a big deal.’ And then you talk to them and they say, ‘oh that was really scary,’” said Emmett. “If they understand that this week’s ice could be much worse than last week, then I think a lot of people will stay home.”
Problem areas in last week’s ice were some of the expected locations, and ones that the Harris County Emergency Operations Center will be monitoring closely on Tuesday. Highway 290 and the North Beltway was the scene of several accidents. The elevated freeway interchanges, and for that matter, the interchanges where the Sam Houston Tollway meets Interstate 45, Highway 249, and Interstate 59, were all plagued by ice last week.
Ramps and the main lanes of I-45 and I-59 through downtown Houston are primarily elevated roadways and experienced ice problems too.
Emmett jokingly referred to I-10 as the usual “Mason-Dixon” line for Houston-area ice storms where the ice problems are usually more pronounced on the north side but not so severe on the south side. Last week’s storm defied those odds and Emmet says the Emergency Operations Center is preparing for that to be the case again this time.
“I heard somebody say, ‘well it’s not gonna be so bad. We’re not gonna have snow, it’s gonna stay north of us, we’re just gonna have ice.’ And I go, ‘do you understand what you just said? Because ice is a lot worse than snow.’”
“All indications are that tomorrow is gonna be really bad,” said Emmett.
The Harris County Emergency Operations Center will be fully staffed starting early Tuesday morning at Level 2 (High Readiness). That means that “hazardous conditions exist, or are imminent and pose a significant threat to life and/or property.”
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