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Recently, Texas was severely affected by Winter Storm Uri, which caused millions of Texans to experience weather-related power failures and water shortages. In fact, Texas’ recent winter weather set records across the state. Learn more below.
Winter Storm Uri caused record-breaking snowfall
Winter Storm Uri was a critical coast-to-coast snowstorm that occurred from February 12 to February 16, 2021. Parts of the northern Houston metro area received up to four inches of sleet and snow. Thundersnow and thunder sleet were reported on February 15 near the Gulf Coast in Galveston, Texas. The snowfall in Galveston broke records that were previously set in December 2008.
On February 14, both Abilene and San Angelo, Texas experienced their all-time snowiest calendar days since the late 1800s. In Austin, Texas, approximately 6.4 inches of snow were recorded at both Bergstrom Airport and Camp Mabry, which was the heaviest snowstorm the city has experienced since January 1949. Additionally, San Antonio received 2.5 inches of snow.
When Winter Storm Uri finished, snow covered 80 percent of Texas. The snowstorm was followed by the coldest temperatures the state had seen in decades.
Record-setting freezing temperatures
Abilene, Texas underwent 10 days in a row of below-freezing weather. According to the National Weather Service in San Angelo, Abilene’s previous record for consecutive hours with temperatures at or below freezing was from December 15, 1983 through December 26, 1983. San Angelo, Texas also broke its record for the number of consecutive hours below freezing.
As temperatures fell below freezing across Texas, some Texans kept their faucets open to prevent their pipes from freezing. However, these increased water demands (and increased electricity demands) taxed Texans’ already-struggling systems.
Sky-rocketing utility bills
In the wake of Winter Storm Uri, the wholesale costs of electricity surged, causing some Texans to get billed for thousands of dollars. One customer, for example, received an electric bill for $17,000.
State regulators may have also played a role, as the Texas Public Utility Commission ordered the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to change its pricing. After the order, the standard price of electricity in Texas rose from an average of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour to $9.
Power outages due to cold weather
After electricity prices skyrocketed, approximately four million people in Texas dealt with power outages for most of the week. Texas’ power generators and natural gas pipes froze, thus crippling the state’s production capabilities. Approximately 40 percent of generators went offline due to the cold weather.
Water shortages from the storm
Winter Storm Uri left many families without access to clean water. Approximately 13 million Texans, nearly half of the state’s population, were advised to boil their water. Texas also faced bottled water shortages at stores.
Recovering from the storm
During the 2021 sales tax holiday of April 24 to April 26, Texans will be able to buy certain tax-free emergency preparation supplies. Although Texas’ weather seems back to normal, Texans are strongly encouraged to prepare for future unprecedented weather-related emergencies.