A winter storm cuts power in Texas for the second time in three years

Unlike the 2021 Texas power outages, when hundreds of people died after the state’s power grid was pushed to the brink of total blackout due to lack of generation, this time Austin’s outages were largely the result of frozen equipment and trees, who fell on power lines.


The city’s utility warned that power may not be restored until Friday as the ice continues to cause new outages even as repairs have been completed elsewhere.

“It feels like two steps forward and three steps back,” said Jackie Sargent, general manager of Austin Energy.

School systems in the Dallas and Austin areas, as well as many in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee, closed Thursday as snow, sleet and freezing rain continued to penetrate. Public transit in Dallas was also experiencing “severe delays,” according to a statement from Dallas Area Rapid Transit early Thursday.

Airport crews fought ice to keep the runways open. As of Thursday morning, airlines had canceled more than 500 flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport — more than a quarter of all flights scheduled for the day. But that was a drop from about 1300 cancellations on Wednesday and more than 1000 on Tuesday, according to FlightAware.com.

An icy mixture covers an interchange in Dallas.

An icy mixture covers an interchange in Dallas. Credit:AP

Dozens more flights were canceled Thursday at Dallas Love Field and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

Vigils and warnings of wintry conditions stretched from the western Texas-Mexico border through Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana to western Tennessee and northern Mississippi.

And in a Thursday briefing with the Federal Weather Prediction Center, New Englanders were warned that wind chills — the combined effect of wind and cold air on exposed skin — in the minus 50s “could be the coldest in decades.”

The strong winds and frigid air will create wind chills “rarely seen in northern and eastern Maine,” according to a recommendation from the National Weather Service’s office in Caribou, Maine.

Jay Broccolo, director of weather operations at an observatory on Mount Washington in New Hampshire – which for decades held the world record for the fastest wind gusts – said Thursday wind speeds could exceed 100 mph (160 km/h).

“We take safety very seriously on the higher peaks and the forecast for this weekend is looking pretty bad even by our standards,” said Broccolo.

At least 10 people have died since Monday due to treacherous road conditions, including seven in Texas, two in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott urged people not to drive.


https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/winter-storm-knocks-power-out-in-texas-for-second-time-three-years-20230203-p5chm4.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world A winter storm cuts power in Texas for the second time in three years

Callan Tansill

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