More than 3.8 million homes without power as unprecedented winter storm hits Texas
More than 3.8 million homes are experiencing power outages across the U.S. state of Texas and another 118 000 across Louisiana, 58 000 in Mississippi, and 163 000 in Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky after extremely cold temperatures and frozen precipitation blanketed parts of U.S. South, crippling transportation and infrastructure. Texas Governor Gregg Abbot issued a statewide disaster declaration on February 12, warning all residents the state faces an unprecedented winter storm.
All 254 Texas counties were placed under Winter Storm Warning on Saturday, February 13, the same as in Oklahoma and Arkansas on Sunday.
As of Monday morning, February 15, more than 150 million Americans are under Winter Storm Warnings, Ice Storm Warnings, Winter Storm Watches, or Winter Weather Advisories as impactful winter weather continues from coast-to-coast.
One day after record-breaking energy use across Texas on Sunday, February 14, 2021, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) declared an ‘energy emergency alert three’ — EEA 3 — the third of three alert phases.
In the first phase, ERCOT looks to get electricity from other grids; in the second stage, large industrial users who’ve agreed to cut power in emergency situations are shut down; and in the third phase, the operator starts running rotating outages to reduce demand on the electric system.
Rolling blackouts, typically lasting from 15 to 60 minutes, could repeat all the way through Tuesday morning.
“We urge Texans to put safety first during this time. Traffic lights and other infrastructure may be temporary without power,” ERCOT officials said.
The supply of natural gas to power plants was limited on Sunday, and half of the system’s wind turbines had frozen hours before the state set a new winter peak demand, reaching 69 150 MW between 18:00 and 19:00 LT. This is more than 3 200 MW higher than the previous winter peak set back in January 2018.
Extreme cold hits United States – electricity and heating prices surge as infrastructure fails to deliver
As a cold arctic air mass remains in place across much of the United States, wintry precipitation will bring hazards to the Pacific Northwest, the Southern Plains, Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley, and the Mid-Atlantic to Northeast this weekend into at least early next week. Temperatures will remain 11 – 22 °C (20 to 40 °F) below normal across the center of the country on Saturday, February 13, 2021.
A very active weekend is ahead for winter weather as large parts of the U.S. experience concerns for extremely cold temperatures, heavy snow, and ice. Coast to coast from the Pacific Northwest to the Mid-Atlantic, there is an array of winter weather headlines in effect.
Texas Freeze Exposes Cold, Dark Heart of America
The cold spell has already pushed snow cover to an all time high across the 48 states in North America. Official data shows snow currently covers 73.2 per cent of the area with an average depth of 6 inches; a year ago just 35.5 per cent was covered with an average of 4.6 inches of snow.
Several cities had record lows: In Minnesota, the Hibbing/Chisholm weather station registered minus 38 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 39 degrees Celsius). Sioux Falls, South Dakota, dropped to minus 26 Fahrenheit (minus 26 degrees Celsius).
Utilities from Minnesota to Texas implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on power grids straining to meet extreme demand for heat and electricity.
Anger over Texas’ power grid failing in the face of a record winter freeze mounted Tuesday as millions of residents in the energy capital of the U.S. remained shivering with no assurances that their electricity and heat — out for 36 hours or longer in many homes — would return soon or stay on once it finally does.
‘I know people are angry and frustrated,’ said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, who woke up to more than 1 million people still without power in his city. ‘So am I.’
Amber Nichols, whose north Austin home has had no power since early Monday, said: ‘We’re all angry because there is no reason to leave entire neighborhoods freezing to death. This is a complete bungle.’
Texas Deploys National Guard As ‘Grid Chaos’ Leaves Millions Freezing In Darkness