Millions without power in Texas as snowstorm slams US

Clay Curtis
February 16, 2021

A frigid blast of winter weather across the USA plunged Texas into an unusually icy emergency Monday that knocked out power to more than 2 million people, closed dangerously snowy and slick highways and put the delivery of new COVID-19 vaccine shipments on hold.

The average spot price for power across the Texas grid hit the state's $9,000 per megawatt-hour price cap shortly after 9:30 a.m. local time.

Power is going to continue to be cut across the state through Monday and potentially into Tuesday morning until enough generators come back online, Woodfin said. Flights are grounded. More than a million barrels a day of oil and 10 billion cubic feet of gas production are shut while pipelines have declared force majeure and massive refineries have halted gasoline and diesel output.

"In our history as a grid operator, this is an unprecedented event", the Southwest Power Pool said in a statement Monday.

Ice storms knocked out almost half the wind-power generating capacity of Texas as a rare deep freeze across the state locked up turbine towers.

President Joe Biden declared an emergency on Monday, unlocking federal assistance to Texas, where temperatures on Monday ranged from 21 to minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 6 to minus 22 Celsius).

First responders cleanup after a massive pileup on I-35W Thursday Feb. 11 2021 near downtown Fort Worth Texas

Several cities in the US saw record lows as Arctic air remained over the central part of the country.

Today, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the governing body that oversees the electric grid in Texas, has instructed utilities to begin rotating outages, which are controlled, temporary interruptions of electrical service that rotate through different parts of the electric grid. Just months ago, California was forced to institute its first rolling blackouts in two decades when extreme heat pushed power demand beyond capacity. She said she hadn't seen a serious snowfall in Dallas since her childhood.

More than 2.5 million homes and businesses throughout Texas are now without power after a historic winter storm dropped several inches of snow on the state.

The storm arrived over a three-day holiday weekend that has seen the most US air travel since the period around New Year's.

At times, parts of Texas were colder than Alaska, according to the National Weather Service. Houston may pick up as much as 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow overnight, along with ice and sleet, the National Weather Service said.

"The southern plains are in a cold pattern", said David Roth, a senior branch forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.

Major winter blast to worsen, bringing risky weather across US
However, later tonight the temperature will drop below 32 degrees Farenheight, and there will be a threat of frozen precipitation. The real question is how big of a problem there will be and what form, freezing rain, sleet, or snow, the problem will manifest.

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