Rolling outages hit during bitter cold
A federal emergency declaration was made after bitter cold and blowing snow swept across the Lone Star State Sunday night into Monday, a weather event that set new power usage records and forced rolling outages to control demand.
“Our emergency response to this winter weather requires a collective approach between state agencies, local officials and Texans throughout our communities to ensure the safety and security of the Lone Star State,” Abbott said in a statement.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security will coordinate disaster relief efforts, a White House release said, with “the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population.”
According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), electric demand set a new peak demand record Sunday night, reaching 69,150 megawatts (MW). The record is 3,200 MW higher than the previous record set in January 2018. ERCOT had asked residents to conserve energy, but demand outpaced capacity as the weather forced electric generations across all fuel types offline.
“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” ERCOT president and CEO Bill Magness said in a Monday morning statement.
In addition to rolling outages, snow and ice endangered power lines, causing conventional outages for residents. According to Oncor, 1.2 million customers were without power 2:30 p.m. Monday, and at the same time, outages affected 2,800 Hopkins County customers.
The weather does not look better for Wednesday, either. As of press time, the National Weather Service is predicting “snow, possibly mixed with freezing rain and sleet” with a high of only 27 degrees for Sulphur Springs. The winter storm warning has been extended and ends 6 a.m. Thursday.
A short thaw looks possible Friday with a high of 33, and most of the icy precipitation should melt Saturday with its low of 36 and high of 43.
In the meantime, residents should take care to stay warm and avoid driving on roads. If driving, make sure to keep the vehicle’s speed low and increase the follow distance between vehicles. Use drivetexas.org to track road conditions of interstates and highways.