Share this story on Twitter.

Millions of people were left without power and water in Texas after a winter storm WALLOPED the Lone Star State last month.

The storm also left dozens of people dead and is expected to become one of the most expensive disasters in the state’s history. By comparison, Hurricane Harvey, the most expensive disaster in the United States in 2017, caused $125 billion worth of damage when it hit Texas.

So just how bad did the weather get in Texas? According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Prediction Center (WPC), the coldest day was on Feb. 15, when the state’s average temperature was 11.8 degrees. On Feb. 16, Tyler, Texas, a city in the eastern part of the state, hit its coldest temperature on record since 1883: a whopping -6 degrees!

Winter Storm Facts:

• 3 storms Feb.10–20 • Damage estimates: $10 billion–$20 billion

• Power outages: 4.3 million

• 300+ sheltered Feb. 16 at Mattress Mack’s Gallery Furniture store in Houston

Illustration of the outline of Texas covered with ice. 11.8 degrees FarenheitIn many parts of Texas, the cold temperatures were accompanied by snow and ice. Abilene, Texas received a record 14.8 inches of snow!

Winter storm-related factors brought much of Texas to a standstill. The severe storm conditions caused most of the generating units to go offline, from coal-fueled power plants to wind turbines. Other power plants lost their pipeline supply of gas and were unable to even generate electricity.

Many states often see much colder temperatures than Texas, which left many people questioning why the state’s energy supply was paralyzed by the winter storm. The short answer is that the energy suppliers had not invested in the measures needed to produce electricity in subfreezing temperatures.

These energy producers knew that a severe weather storm could pose a serious threat in Texas because this isn’t the first time that Texas has dealt with uncharacteristic, catastrophic winter weather. In February 2011, an ice storm crippled Texas power plants for a time. Studies were conducted and measures were suggested about how to prepare the state for future cold snaps and winter storms, but very few of those recommendations were put into place over the last 10 years.

Edition: 
Phoenix
Tucson
Issue: 
March 2021