Published: Wed, February 17, 2021
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Is the Texas Power Grid 'Totally Reliant' on Windmills?

Is the Texas Power Grid 'Totally Reliant' on Windmills?

US President Joe Biden declared an emergency in Texas in a statement Sunday night. Mayor Sylvester Turner said other warming centres were closed because they lost power.

Nebraska's blackouts came amid some of the coldest weather on record: In Omaha, the temperature bottomed out at 23 degrees below zero overnight (minus 30 degrees Celsius), the coldest in 25 years.

Single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts. The state opened 35 shelters to more than 1,000 occupants, the agency said. "I thank my partners in the House and Senate for acting quickly on this challenge, and I will work with them to enhance Texas' electric grid and ensure that our state never experiences power outages like this again".

Texas' power grid manager, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said Wednesday morning that electricity had been restored to 600,000 homes and businesses by Tuesday night but that 2.7 million households were still without power.

Blackouts lasting more than an hour began before dawn Tuesday in and around Oklahoma City, stopping electric-powered space heaters, furnaces and lights just as temperatures hovered around minus 8 degrees (minus 22 degrees Celsius). But we need to start taking a look at extreme weather.

County officials distributed the doses that could have spoiled at three hospitals, Rice University and the county jail because there were large groups of people available who would not have to drive and appropriate medical personnel present.

The tornado that hit North Carolina's Brunswick County was an EF3 with winds estimated at 160 miles per hour (257 kph), the weather service said on Twitter.

Meanwhile in North Carolina, a tornado spawned by the same storm left three people dead and 10 injured. Resident Sharon Benson told CBS News she was shocked by the tornado, because forecasters "said it was going to rain".

Authorities were struggling to clear roads, as they do not have snow plows because the state so rarely needs them, The New York Times reported. A MS man died after losing control of his vehicle, which overturned on an icy road Monday night near Starkville, Oktibbeha County coroner Michael Hunt said Tuesday.

Four of those deaths were from one family, who perished in a house fire while using a fireplace to stay warm in Houston.

In Oregon, authorities confirmed on Tuesday that four people had died in the Portland area from carbon monoxide poisoning. Worth and Austin, which resulted in at least six deaths.

The weather also caused major disruptions to water systems in the Texas cities of Houston, Fort Worth, Galveston, Corpus Christi and in Memphis, Tennessee. In Minnesota, the Chisholm-Hibbing weather station registered -39C (-38F), while Sioux Falls, South Dakota temperatures dropped to -32C (-26F). About four inches of snow fell at the Dallas airport.

"Let me give it to you straight, based on the visibility I have: Whether you have power or not right now, there is a possibility of power outages even beyond the length of this weather", Hidalgo said, according to Houston Public Media. But as climate change accelerates, many electric grids will face novel and extreme weather events that go beyond the historical conditions those grids were designed for, putting the systems at risk of catastrophic failure.

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