Texas winter 2021 went down in history books as the most brutal winter season in recent years. When Winter Storm Uri swept across the Lone Star State earlier in the year, it left a trail of devastation in its wake. State residents were plunged into sub-zero temperatures for the first time in decades. All 254 counties issued winter storm warnings, something that had never happened before. Most of the Texas power grid collapsed, causing a statewide emergency.
Now that winter is just around the corner, Texans are concerned about what to expect this time around. Will the state experience another brutal ice storm? Is the power grid better equipped to deal with the surge in power demand from state residents if temperatures dip to what they were in February? Here’s what the Texas winter 2022 predictions have in-store for state residents.
Texas Winter 2020-2021
Texas state residents were unprepared for the massive winter storm that swept across the state in February 2021. While several cities have made preparations to mitigate the potential effects of an ice storm of similar magnitude, the reality is, there’s no real assurance that the water and lights will stay on this time around. This is despite repeated assurance from government officials in major Texas cities across the state.
Most cities grossly underestimated the severity of the winter storm that left hundreds of state residents dead and millions of others without electricity, heat, and water for several consecutive days. What the Texas winter storm power outages revealed were the looming gaps in the state local government authorities’ ability to respond to frigid weather conditions.
As the storm blanketed cities in several inches of snow, governments found that they did not have adequate supplies like water trucks and backup power generators to handle winter emergencies of that magnitude.
City workers, who would have otherwise been able to respond to the desperate pleas of freezing residents, were left stranded due to blackouts and icy roads that were no match for their trucks. Even somewhat prepared cities could not do much in the wake of the statewide power outages.
Fast-forward a year later, and cities are now aware of the potential devastation that could result from being ill-prepared to handle the effects of massive winter storms like Uri.
What’s Different This Time Around
Government inquiries were launched to look into what went wrong in San Antonio and Austin – two of the worst-hit cities in the February 2021 catastrophe. The probes resulted in dozens of recommendations aimed at beefing up emergency preparedness if a storm of similar magnitude were to sweep through the state once again.
One of the major recommendations included revising and updating emergency planning documentation, which at the time had downplayed the level of risk posed by Uri in February 2021. The other major recommendation included boosting emergency reserves to avoid shortages like what the region witnessed during the crisis. Several cities across the state have made significant headway in storm preparedness, an often overlooked area in local government risk assessment, prevention, and mitigation matters.
Some of the steps taken include strategic measures designed to minimize potential power outages for state residents and ensure critical facilities receive uninterrupted power supply in the event of a crisis.
Local governments have also purchased tire chains for emergency response vehicles. This move will allow them to access the hardest-hit areas of their respective cities without their vehicles sinking and getting stuck in several inches of snow.
Several cities in the Lone Star State have also boosted their bottled water reserves in case of widespread water shortages, like what was witnessed in February.
Texas Winter 2022 Predictions – Farmers’ Almanac vs. NOCC
Winter Storm Uri was responsible for the coldest winter in Texas in recent years. What most Texans are worried about is suffering through the effects of a similar storm in the 2021-2022 winter months.
In August 2021, the Farmers Almanac Texas warned that state residents should brace themselves for cold and stormy conditions from late December through mid-January. It also predicted snowy conditions toward the end of January 2022, but not the extremes experienced a year earlier.
The Farmers’ Almanac had accurately predicted the massive winter storm that hit the state in February 2021. The periodic publication stated that the arctic outbreak would bring with it ice and snow to both Oklahoma and Texas.
A more recent prediction from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates that state residents in central Texas should expect a “drier-than-normal winter.” According to the agency, the odds are leaning more toward less rain than what the state would ordinarily experience based on historical data. The odds of a dry winter increase as you head further out to the southwestern region of Texas.
As for the temperatures this time around, NOAA predicts “warmer-than-normal” conditions between December 2021 and February 2022. Since Farmers’ Almanac’s initial forecast in August, the odds have since changed in favor of a warmer winter in these coming months.
An Average Winter in Texas – Historical Data
Texas winter storms are not a normal occurrence in the southern state. Winter is the driest season and records between 7.20 and 7.30 inches of rain over the three-month period. As you would expect, February is usually the driest month of the year and also the coldest. Below is an overview of the weather conditions in a typical Texas winter.
- Rain (average): 2.72 in.
- Temperature lows (average): 43.4°F
- Temperature highs (average): 63.9°F
- Rain (average): 2.64 in.
- Temperature lows (average): 41.8°F
- Temperature highs (average): 62.5°F
- Rain (average): 1.89 in.
- Snow (average): 0.2 in.
- Temperature lows (average): 45.8°F
- Temperature highs (average): 66.5°F
Last winter was significantly colder than normal and slightly wetter than usual. While the last winter season and this year’s are both La Niña weather, the conditions will not be as brutal as they were previously.
Weather Outlook for 2022
While 2020-2021 saw the coldest winter in Texas in recent history, you can expect warmer conditions this time around. Despite this somewhat positive weather outlook, cities across the state are still taking the necessary precautions in case these predictions change.
Their main priority is putting systems and measures in place to prevent widespread power outages and water shortages like what was experienced in February this year.
In the meantime, check out our blog for the latest updates on the I-45 expansion in Houston.