Could overnight storms in Central Texas mean the end of winter?

A Union Pacific train derailed early Monday morning February 20, 2017 on Texas Highway 79 North of Thrall, TX. Severe thunderstorms and high winds may have caused the multiple cars to derail. Railroad crews will be on the scene throughout the day to remove the damaged cars. The remaining train was cleared and continued northward. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
A Union Pacific train derailed early Monday on U.S. 79 north of Thrall. Severe thunderstorms and high winds may have caused the multiple cars to derail. Railroad crews will be on the scene throughout the day to remove the damaged cars. RALPH BARRERA/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

The storms that blew through late Sunday into Monday morning were yet another example of how spring has probably arrived in Central Texas — which could be a mixed blessing.

Storms like the one that probably woke you up last night are unusual for this time of year, said Troy Kimmel, a University of Texas meteorologist and instructor. Storm season typically starts weeks from now in spring, which arrives March 20, according to the astronomical calendar. But last night’s storm seems to be the clincher in the theory to which thermometers have been attesting: Winter has already come and gone in Central Texas.

“It looks like winter is over,” Kimmel said. “These temperatures are what we expect to see a month down the road.”

This week’s forecast bolsters that notion. The National Weather Service expects clear skies as high temperatures rise into the mid-80s by Thursday and remain in the 70s at least through Saturday. The last freeze was in early January. Of the 50 days since 2017 started, 35 have topped 70 degrees at Camp Mabry. Monday, whose daytime high should be in the mid-70s, will be nearly 10 degrees warmer than the norm of 66 degrees and much higher than the average temperature, which is skewed by a few unusually cold days in the past, of 56 degrees.

So break out the flip-flops, but be prepared to pull the trash can out of the road after middle-of-the-night storms.

And be prepared for downpours.

Forecasting an entire season is notoriously tricky — as a wise man once noted, predictions are difficult, especially about the future — and Central Texas just went through the kind of La Niña season that is typically drier than normal. The La Niña brought a slightly drier winter, said Bob Rose, a Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist, but the La Niña also ended early this month.

Monday morning’s storm was surprising in part because the moisture level in the atmosphere suggested something a less intense, Kimmel said. But the atmospheric instability from the system that came out of the Pacific — a particularly “dynamic” system, Kimmel said — was like a hot pepper that gave a pot of chili an extra kick. One result was storm damage across Central Texas, mainly from straight-line winds. The Weather Service has confirmed tornado damage in San Antonio and is investigating potential tornado damage in Williamson County.

“If we have system like this one a month or two down the road, we could have some very severe weather,” Kimmel said. He added: “Our severe season seems to already be here.”

Watch: Texas 8th-grader films frightening bus ride through floodwaters

One concerned mother’s Facebook post has incited an investigation within the Montgomery Independent School District, the Houston Chronicle reports. Karin Baker Williams took to the site to express her anxiety over a video of her son’s frightening bus ride home during a week of extreme weather in Texas.

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via Facebook/Karin Baker Williams

The short video was filmed by Williams’ eighth-grade son who can be heard muttering, “Holy crap,” to himself as his bus slowly rolls through high, rushing water.

Facebook users commented on the post to express concern over the district’s decision to move forward with school as scheduled, and the bus driver’s decision to continue driving through the flooding.

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According to the Houston Chronicle, the district has since released a statement saying the incident is being investigated and outlining their driver guidelines during flooding:

Currently, our standard operating procedures for drivers in high water situations are: stop, observe traffic (any other vehicles crossing), can you see the road (stripes/markings), is the water less than 4 inches in depth, if not, then proceed and if the water does not cross the 1st step on the bus, the driver can continue across the low water area. If the water comes across the 1st step, the driver is to stop and reverse course.

Luckily no one was injured during this particular bus ride, but the video remains a convincing reminder that it’s always safer to “Turn around, don’t drown.”

Keep up with severe weather as it occurs, here, and check out today’s Austin weather forecast.

Watch: New Braunfels flooding sweeps away Jeep

via Facebook
via Facebook

One driver could do nothing but watch as his Jeep was swept away by the raging Guadalupe River in the middle of a week of extreme weather in Texas.

Kim Jacob took to Facebook to share a video of the incident, which occurred right outside her house. According to Jacob, the owner of the Jeep parked it near a bridge when the floodwater was only knee deep so that he could go check on his tent at a nearby campground.

Jacob clarifies that the driver was warned “not to and that the canyon was going to flood.”

READ: Turn around, don’t drown: Here’s what to do at a low water crossing

The floodwaters quickly rose and “a huge wall of water came,” Jacobs wrote on her Facebook post. She then left to warn the Jeep owner, who came to watch his vehicle be washed away.

Although a sad fate for the Jeep, luckily no one was in the vehicle or injured during the incident. The video, however, serves as a reminder of the danger of water crossings and the power of flash floods. Keep up with this week’s forecasted sever weather here, and stay safe!

READ: What do flood advisories, watches and warnings mean?

Turn around, don’t drown: Here’s what to do at a low water crossing

As severe weather pounds Central Texas, keep safety first. Looking for flooded low water crossings in your area? The interactive map at ATXfloods is the place to check for current flood conditions and emergency road closures in the Austin area.

Local law enforcement blocks off the north Dry Creek bridge where a stranded vehicle from the rising flood water in South Austin on early Friday Morning, May 27, 2016. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Local law enforcement blocks off the north Dry Creek bridge where a stranded vehicle from the rising flood water in South Austin on early Friday Morning, May 27, 2016.
RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

SEE MORE PHOTOS OF STORMS AND FLOODING IN CENTRAL TEXAS

During severe weather, the safest thing to do is avoid the roads. But if you must drive, the city of Austin offers several safety tips.

About 75% of flood-related deaths in Texas occur in vehicles. At night, during heavy storms, it may be difficult to see that a road is flooded. Survivors have told us that they did not even see water on the road until their vehicle stalled in it.

DOWNLOAD: Statesman Weather app keeps you forewarned oniPhone and Android devices

Realizing that not all flooded roads will be barricaded, take the following precautions:

  • Avoid low water crossings.
  • Actively look for water over the road.
  • Turn around if a road is barricaded or if water is over the road. Keep in mind that the road may be heavily damaged underneath the flood water.

RELATED: Closures, cancellations, delays following overnight storms

There’s high danger at low water crossings. Find out what to do if you get trapped in your vehicle in flood waters.

RELATED: Flash flood warning for parts of Travis, Hays counties