Saturday, September 25, 2021

A week of historic cold and snow


Millions of people in Texas and the central US were without power in extreme cold weather and record snowfall last week as a winter storm moved from one corner of the country to the other, The New York Times reports.

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At least 58 people died in areas affected by the storm from San Antonio, Texas, to Ohio, as a historic winter weather system brought bitter, record-shattering cold to much of the southern and central US. The storm moved up the East Coast on Thursday, with forecasters warning of dangerous, icy buildups.

At its worst point, some four million people in oil-rich Texas were without power this week as temperatures plummeted to the teens and single digits. By Friday, 165,000 remained without electricity and millions were without running water or under notices to boil their tap water.

Much of the US heartland, where these weather extremes are uncommon and, in some places, record-breaking, suffered similar hardships. A warm-up is coming, as temps in San Antonio today were expected to be in the upper 50s. But last week, residents of south Texas had to survive the craziness, caused by what the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or Ercot, the state’s independent energy contractor, said was a brown-out designed to conserve energy.

A spokeswoman for Ercot said on Friday that the surge in demand, as residents cranked up the heat, stressed the power grid and created a situation in which the “local utilities were not able to rotate the outages.”

“Nonetheless, before one could even ‘look back’ at this storm, we must survive and get through the upcoming days as more snow is falling at the time this article was written,” wrote Esteban Serrano in The Pep, the student newspaper at Central Catholic High School in San Antonio.

The storm also dumped more than 17 inches of snow on Chicago’s Midway Airport over the holiday weekend. Chicago Public Schools moved all in-person instruction to virtual on Tuesday in response to the snowfall, NBC-5 Chicago reported.

Baltimore City Schools did the same on Thursday as the storm moved to the East Coast, WJZ-TV (CBS affiliate) reported. In the city, the weather event was more sleet than snow, WBAL-TV (NBC affiliate) explained, but 4 inches of snow still accumulated in some parts of Maryland.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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