Winter weather arrived in Texas this month. Winds brought not only cold, but also memories of last year’s deadly freeze and blackout. Understandably, people got nervous. But, experts say, the weather we’ve had so far was not likely to bring a power failure. So what, if anything, does the grid’s performance tell us about its readiness for the next big storm?
First, some context about this month’s weather.
“I would say, generally, January 2022, so far, has been boringly normal,” says Victor Murphy, a climate program manager for the National Weather Service.
Murphy has run the numbers. He says the low temperatures this month are pretty much exactly what Texans should expect every winter, every year. The same goes for the pattern of cold we experienced, which Murphy described as “cold mornings for a day or two, followed by two or three days of moderating temps and then things cooling back off again.”
It’s par for the course, he says, nothing close to last year’s storm and nothing that should even begin to strain an electric grid.
But that has not stopped people from worrying.
Ahead of last week’s freeze, there were plenty of Texans anticipating, or at least preparing for, another blackout. The fear was maybe most apparent on social media, but also crept into the real world with people stocking up at grocery stores.
The Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey says that’s no surprise after what they went through last year “sitting in their houses freezing and wondering if they were in real peril.”
Ramsey says it’s also not a surprise that the condition of the grid has become a political issue in an election year.