x

Society

Texas Power Woes Linger as Arctic Air Heads for New England (Vid)

February 3, 2023

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — As rising temperatures offered some hope for frustrated Texans shivering in their homes days after losing power in a deadly winter storm, another wave of frigid weather was taking aim Friday at the northern U.S.

An Arctic cold front was expected to move from Canada into the northern Plains and Upper Midwest and sweep into the Northeast. Wind chills in some areas could dive below minus 50 Fahrenheit (minus 45 Celsius).

In Austin, city officials compared the damage from fallen trees and iced-over power lines to tornadoes as they came under mounting criticism for slow repairs and shifting timelines to restore power.

“We had hoped to make more progress today,“ said Jackie Sargent, general manager of Austin Energy. ”And that simply has not happened.”

Across Texas, more than 250,000 customers lacked power early Friday, which was down from 430,000 on Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us.

The failures were most widespread in Austin. Impatience was rising there among about 126,000 customers two days after the electricity first went out, which for many also meant no heat. Power failures affected about 30% of customers in the city of nearly a million at any given time since Wednesday.

By Thursday night, Austin officials backtracked on early estimates that power would be fully restored by Friday evening, saying the extent of the damage was worse than originally calculated and they could no longer predict when all the lights would be back on.

For many Texans, it was the second time in three years that a February freeze caused prolonged outages and uncertainty over when the lights would come back on. Temperatures were in the 30s Fahrenheit (minus 1 to 3.8 Celsius) Thursday with wind chills below freezing.

Ice coats trees at an Austin, Texas, home, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. A storm knocked out power for a third of the city. Even as temperatures finally pushed above freezing in Austin — and were expected to climb past 50 degrees (10 Celsius) on Friday — the relief will be just in time for an Arctic front to drop from Canada and threaten northern states. (Andrea Ball/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Unlike the 2021 blackouts in Texas, when hundreds of people died after the state’s grid was pushed to the brink of total failure because of a lack of generation, the outages in Austin this time were largely the result of frozen equipment and ice-burdened trees and limbs falling on power lines. But the differences were little comfort to Austin residents and businesses that also lost power for days two years ago.

The freeze has been blamed for at least 10 traffic deaths on slick roads this week in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

In a briefing Thursday with the federal Weather Prediction Center, New Englanders were warned that wind chill — the combined effect of wind and cold air on exposed skin — in the minus 50s Fahrenheit (minus 45 to minus 50 Celsius) “could be the coldest felt in decades.”

An iced over pedestrian walkway is lined by trees that are covered with ice from a few days of sleet and rain, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The strong winds and cold air will create wind chill “rarely seen in northern and eastern Maine,” according to an advisory from the National Weather Service office in Caribou, Maine.

Jay Broccolo, director of weather operations at New Hampshire’s Mount Washington observatory, which for decades held the world record for the fastest wind gust, said Thursday that wind speeds could top 100 mph (160 kph).

“We take safety really seriously in the higher summits,” Broccolo said, “and this weekend’s forecast is looking pretty gnarly, even for our standards.”

An electrical transformer is coated in ice and icicles from a few days of rain and sleet, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

___

RELATED

FORT PIERCE, Fla.  — Lawyers for Donald Trump made a longshot argument Friday that the Justice Department prosecutor who charged the former president with hoarding classified documents at his Florida estate was illegally appointed and that the case should therefore be dismissed.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Alberto, Season’s First Named Tropical Storm, Dumps Rain on Texas and Mexico, Which Reports 3 Deaths

TAMPICO, Mexico (AP) — Tropical Storm Alberto rumbled toward northeast Mexico early Thursday as the first named storm of the season, carrying heavy rains that left three people dead but also brought hope to a region suffering under a prolonged, severe drought.

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip  — Israeli forces shelled tent camps for displaced Palestinians outside Gaza's southern city of Rafah on Friday, killing at least 25 people and wounding another 50, according to the territory's health officials and emergency workers.

LEIPZIG, Germany  — Kylian Mbappé watched from the substitutes’ bench as France and the Netherlands finished 0-0 in a heavyweight European Championship clash on Friday.

NEW YORK – Greek-American long-distance runner Alexi Pappas was featured in Vogue magazine for her latest role as an ambassador for the outdoor brand Merrell and a film project with Merrell and Vogue.

ATHENS - A total of 64 fires broke out in mixed farm and forest land in the last 24 hours, with 46 of them controlled from the very start, the Fire Brigade said in a briefing earlier on Friday.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.