Winter Storms’ Common Denominator – Power Outages
Many things happen outdoors when a winter storm hits. It’s usually cold and it’s often windy.
Depending on what part of the country you live in, there is usually a driving rainstorm, a heavy snowstorm, or a sleet and ice storm.
People out and about during a winter storm experience all sorts of problems. Ranging from traffic accidents and getting stranded on roads to slipping and falling when they’re on foot.
Theoretically, all you need to do to avoid these serious issues is stay inside your home. But there’s one big problem with that. The common denominator with winter storms – no matter where you live – is power outages.
Blackouts Go on and on
Thousands of people deal with power outages every day in various parts of the country. Most of them only last a few hours.
But when a power outage is the result of a winter storm, they frequently last longer. Sometimes much longer.
Just ask people living in Texas and other Southern states. Late last month, a winter storm including bone-chilling temperatures struck the South. And decided to stick around for a while.
A full week after Winter Storm Uri slammed Southern states, hundreds of thousands of people still were without power.
Uri Kills Over 30
Uri was ruthless. It killed at least 31 people and injured many more. Over 5 million homes and businesses lost power. As well as 4.7 million people in Mexico.
During this killer storm featuring record-breaking low temperatures, snow and ice, it was colder in Houston, Texas than in Houston, Alaska. Oklahoma’s capital city had its coldest morning since the 1800s.
Trying to explain why so many people lost power for so long, here’s what Dan Woodfin said. He’s the senior director of system operations at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
“This event was well beyond the design parameters for a typical, or even an extreme, Texas winter that you would normally plan for.”
Icicles Form Indoors
Residents of Texas and other Southern states watched in horror as their water pipes froze and burst.
The situation was so bad that officials in Galveston, Texas asked drivers of refrigerated trucks to hold bodies they anticipated finding in homes without power.
Kitchen faucets had icicles hanging from them in Houston. In San Antonio, ambulance services couldn’t keep up with the calls.
At one point, more than 170 million Americans were under one type of winter weather-related alert or another.
Electrical Grid Can’t Keep Up
Folks in Texas and other Southern states are not used to being plunged into a deep freeze. But that’s what happened when Uri came calling.
As temperatures fell into the single digits in some areas, the Lone Star State set a winter record for electricity demand. And the grid couldn’t meet that demand.
Cold and ice kept the supply of energy – especially natural gas – from being delivered. Even warming centers had to close, due to losing power. Some 350 Walmart stores closed in Texas and other states.
Marc Veasey is a U.S. Representative from Texas. He said an industry executive told him the power grid was only minutes away from failing. Rolling outages kept it from collapsing altogether.
But outages – planned or otherwise – led to more pipes bursting and a water crisis for millions of people. Needless to say, store shelves were emptied in a hurry. And food supply chain problems meant they couldn’t be replenished.
Widespread Power Problems
While Texas felt most of the brunt of Uri, other states were also affected. In fact, more than one-third of the continental U.S. had sub-zero temperatures. Some people slept by their fireplaces. Others crowded into their running cars.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama were socked hard. In Louisiana, more than 109,000 lost power. Another 60,000 in Mississippi suffered blackouts.
People in Kansas were urged to conserve energy as a state of disaster emergency was declared. Officials in Oklahoma said unprecedented demand for electricity was straining the state’s electrical grid. And its natural gas infrastructure.
The storm even caused damage and injuries in Georgia and Florida. Overall, power outages were reported in 15 states. Including North Carolina, Kentucky and West Virginia. Plus Virginia, Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio.
Uri Was Only the Latest
Of course, Uri was hardly the only winter storm America has had to face lately.
Just as the new year rolled in, Winter Storm John spread a wintry mess of snow and ice from Texas through the Midwest. Then headed off to New England.
Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma and other states were hit with heavy snow and ice. More than 100,000 power outages were reported.
In December, New England got pummeled by two nor’easters. They dumped more than a foot of snow in some places. And resulted in hundreds of thousands of outages.
Be Ready for the Next One
We’ve grown accustomed to winter storms bombarding the Plains, Midwest and New England. But Texas and other parts of the Deep South? That’s when you know it’s bad.
And now we’re headed toward spring when more storms and tornadoes are certain to cause power disruptions. All over the country.
It’s time we get prepared for the common denominator: power outages. As you probably know, my recommendation is the solar-powered Patriot Power Generator 1800. It can power your refrigerator, freezer, phones, medical devices and more.
And it charges with the free power of the sun. Best of all, it’s fume-free and perfectly safe to use indoors. Even when the weather outside is frightful.