Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Issues Disaster Declaration as Massive Winter Storm Threatens State’s Electricity Grid

Wintry weather in Corpus Christi on the Gulf Coast. (Credit: Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via USA Today Network)

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration Friday afternoon for every county in Texas as a massive winter storm threatens to wreck havoc on the state’s electricity grid, power lines and roads.

“Texas should heed the guidance of their local leaders and stay alert to changing weather conditions in their area,” Abbott said in a press release.

The state’s power grid could see record-setting winter electricity demand from Texans trying to keep warm this weekend. That means the capacity of Texas’ power grid, most of which is run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, will be put to the test. It is unclear whether this will result in rolling blackouts in Texas, or “rotating outages” as ERCOT calls system power outages.

“We’ve got maybe seven days of some real serious stress here,” said Ed Hirs, energy economist at the University of Houston.

Abbott’s order comes as the National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or watches for most of the state. The freezing weather is expected to last through the weekend and into Monday evening. The Dallas-Fort Worth and Central Texas areas could see light ice and snow accumulations of 3 to 6 inches, according to a warning.

Some areas have already experienced power outages or icy roads. In Fort Worth, more than 130 vehicles were involved in a deadly highway pile-up on Thursday.

The North Texas warning said the wind chill is expected to dip as low as minus 15 degrees. The service is also predicting record-low, single-digit temperatures across much of Texas over the coming days. The forecast of 6 degrees on Tuesday in Austin would be the coldest low since December 1989, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

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SOURCE: Texas Tribune, Megan Menchaca and Mitchell Ferman

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