The winter storm is here, and some Houstonians are feeling the effects of our days-long Arctic blast more than others. With rolling power outages, hazardous roadways and more winter-centric concerns that are pretty foreign to most residents of the Bayou City, here's what you need to know now:
Updated 11:32 a.m. February 19
Water pressure is coming back up in Houston. Today, the city is averaging 32–34 psi, although there are still some pockets that still have about 20 psi.
“We are making steady, sustainable progress,” but it’s going to take time to get out and stay out of the boil-water notice, said Public Works Director Carol Haddock. She reminded people to boil water for at least two minutes. It’s expected that the notice will remain until Monday. Haddock asked for patience, but if you still have low water pressure at the end of day today, call Public Works.
As weather warms, many are now dealing with water damage. The city has received as many as 4,900 calls about pipes bursting, Turner said, but the real number is probably higher than that. He urged people to turn off their water if their pipes burst. He also asked people that if they see water coming from a building and no one is there, report it.
Additionally, he encouraged people to document damages to their homes. Because we are under a state of emergency, there is a possibility for folks to receive reimbursement, so make sure there are records. “If the ceiling has fallen in,” he said, “take pictures of it.”
To assist the families who cannot afford to repair their homes or don’t have insurance, the city is working to put together a relief fund, Turner said. More information on that should come soon.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said all highways are now drivable, but he did ask Houstonians to be careful tonight during the hard freeze.
He also advised people to be aware of con artists who might be pretending to be contractors, plumbers, etc. “There will be a lot of fake contractors coming around, who will take your money and do nothing,” he said.
Updated 8:30 a.m. February 19
Texas made it through Thursday night drawing heavily on the electric grid but without seeing the grid itself fail, according to ERCOT. Although Houston and the rest of the state once again endured low temperatures, tripping some generators, the grid load held up and it's expected that the power supply will make it through the demands of Friday morning's hard freeze-level temperatures without incident. ERCOT is expected to officially not be in an emergency situation as of later Friday. Power has now been restored to 99.8 percent of CenterPoint homes, so although—as horrible as this is to contemplate—some people are still likely dealing with no electricity, the bulk of those in the Houston area should have seen the lights and heat come back by now.
However, the city of Houston's boil water notice is still in effect, and is expected to remain in place until at least Monday. A mass, drive-thru water distribution will be taking place at 11:30 a.m. today at Delmar Stadium, 2020 Mangum Road, where anyone who cannot boil water or who do not have access to water due to frozen pipes can pick up bottled water to help get them through this crisis. Both city and county offices are closed today, and schools are also not in session, mainly due to the lack of water at this point.
It's also going to be another cold day in Houston. The icy road conditions are not as extreme as they've been the previous mornings, but Houston TranStar is still reporting about 25 icy roadways in the Houston area.
And, lastly, Sen. Ted Cruz returned from his controversial trip to Cancun on Thursday evening, and subsequently told reporters that he does, in fact, now regret his decision to leave Texas in the midst of this emergency. No word yet on how he feels about having reportedly also left behind his family's pet poodle, Snowflake, but if a dog could tweet we're betting Snowflake would have some thoughts.
Updated 5 p.m. February 18
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo urged area residents to go easy on electricity tonight as we go through one more hard freeze. She said that although most Texas homes have had power restored—there are now about 20,000 still in the dark—a surge in need could overtax the system.
Hidalgo also noted that recovery will mean clean-up and calling insurance companies and doing a large amount of difficult work."Recovery takes time," she said, urging patience. The Houston area remains under a boil water notice, part of the 13 million in Texas who either don't have water or can't drink the water on tap.
Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott seems less focused on trying to foist blame for the power disaster on renewable energy today. During a press conference in Austin on Thursday afternoon he announced that he is adding two more emergency items to the legislative session, including mandating winterization of generators and power system equipment (something that had been recommended by a decade-old report but had never been enacted due to cost) and locking downs the funding needed to make that winterization happen. The governor is also still holding ERCOT responsible for the collapse of the state's electricity system this week. "What happened this week to Texans is unacceptable and can never happen again," Abbott said.
Abbott didn't have much to say about Sen. Ted Cruz and his recent trip to Cancun this week. Twitter, however, as we've noted, had plenty to say about the junior senator's jaunt to Mexico while Houston and the rest of Texas faced freezing temperatures without power. Cruz is back in town now.
Updated 11:30 a.m. February 18
Mayor Sylvester Turner noted that things are beginning to improve—the number of those without power in Houston has gone from 1.37 million yesterday to a fraction of that today, as we've previously noted, while the water pressure is beginning to return—but he warned that we are still not out of the woods yet. Turner said that he expects that the rolling blackouts that have now replaced full-on power outages will likely continue for the next few days. He also noted that the restoration of the grid is still relatively fragile.
“It’s a somewhat uncertain situation," he said. "And what I mean by that is they’ve brought a lot of generation on very quickly. There certainly will be more blackouts as we go for the next few days.”
CenterPoint Energy Senior Vice President Kenneth E. Coleman said about 40,000 customers are still without power. He said the CenterPoint hopes to get everyone back on by end-of-day today or tomorrow. They're watching to make sure power stabilized across the Texas grid, but Coleman is concerned about the hard freeze tonight. He asked people to be conservative with their energy use to not overload the power grid. "Conservation is critical today and tomorrow," he said.
Turner said that the city is going to set up water distribution locations throughout the city, spreading them among the city council member districts today. While water pressure is continuing to come back, the city will likely need to continue the boil water notice through at least Monday.
Houston Public Works Carol Haddock said water pressure was 18 psi yesterday. The city brought in extra generators last night, and the city can now start to increase pressure, but again it's going to be a while until we're in the all-clear.
As of 9 a.m., pressure had risen to 23 psi, Haddock said. At 10 a.m., it was at 26 psi. "This is a really important number for us," said Haddock, because it's above the minimum threshold, and now Public Works is trying to stabilize that number. "It is our goal to be at or above 30 psi by the end of the day."
Haddock beseeched people to minimize water use. If you have a burst pipe, turn off your water system. Call 311 if you need help doing so. If your pipes haven't burst so far, she suggested you turn your pipes off tonight before the hard freeze to protect your house.
Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña warned people to be wary of ways they're staying warm. HFD has had an average of 3,000 calls per day, and responded to 60 structure fires.
Both Peña and Turner warned of carbon monoxide poisoning, which has killed two people so far in Houston. Do not use grills inside or sit in your car in the garage, even if the door is open. "It does not take much for those levels to be lethal," Peña said. For more tips on how to protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning, check out our interview with a fire-safety expert at Kidde.
In other blackout news, the shelter at the George R Brown Convention Center will continue to operate until Saturday.
Updated 8:10 a.m. February 18
Although Houston will continue to deal with low temperatures until at least Saturday, things are beginning to look up. As of Thursday morning 98 percent of CenterPoint customers in the Houston area have seen their power restored. This leaves about 47,000 households still offline in the Houston area and more than 600,000 across Texas, but it's a marked improvement from more than one million here and almost three million people in the state who didn't have power this time yesterday. ERCOT has said there will likely continue to be rolling blackouts of 20 to 30 minutes for the next few days, but the sustained outages we've been seeing should come to an end soon. (If you're taking this with a grain of salt, however, we feel you. ERCOT's leaders have been so widely seen as acting deliberately vague and obtuse about what was going on with the state energy grid and when it would be fixed that they have been receiving threats.)
As to water supply, the city's boil water notice is still in effect on Thursday, but additional generators have been brought in to help increase water pressure, Mayor Sylvester Turner stated via Twitter. City officials are expecting water pressure to be fully restored by Thursday evening. In the meantime, the city will be setting up water distribution sites with particular focus on getting water to those who cannot afford to purchase it.
Regarding the frigid weather, we're not out of the woods yet, but we're nearing the end of this Arctic blast. If you must be on the roads this morning, proceed with caution. Houston TranStar is already reporting more than 100 icy roadways in the area. During the day, temperatures are expected to climb into the 30s, albeit with a below-freezing windchill, and to dip down again tonight, low enough that a hard freeze warning has already been issued for Harris and surrounding counties, according to Space City Weather. However, on Friday we'll warm up to the 40s and by Saturday the freezing should be done and we'll start seeing temperatures climb back into the 60s.
Updated 5:10 p.m. February 17
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced in her briefing on Wednesday afternoon that the County Attorney's Office will be monitoring reports of price gouging during the winter storm and its aftermath. The county will be honing in on individuals who are marking up prices for everything from accommodations to groceries and food.
"I can't imagine anything more cruel," than price gouging during a storm, said Hidalgo.
Anyone who suspects price gouging can report the instance by calling 346-354-7459 or by visiting Ready Harris.
Hidalgo also suggested that residents not attempt to get supplies at night when roads may refreeze, and reiterated that people should not use outdoor cooking and heating equipment like grills and fire pits indoors, as they could cause carbon monoxide poisoning. The Houston Chronicle reported Tuesday that more than 300 cases of carbon monoxide poisoning had been reported since the beginning of this series of winter storms and record low temperatures.
Updated 4:50 p.m. February 17
The first round of winter storms are beginning to clear out of Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott announced in an Austin press conference this afternoon, but another round of precipitation will be coming across the state over the next 24 hours. “Most of the state will be below freezing tomorrow morning,” he said, with folks experiencing “ultra-cold temperatures again” Thursday night.
“Every source of power the state of Texas has,” Abbott said, “has been compromised.”
Since 12:01 am Wednesday, 6,000 megawatts have been added to the Texas grid, Abbott announced, resulting in 1.2 million homes seeing power restored. But there is still 10,000 megawatts off of the grid (and here in Houston there are still more than a million without electricity.)
Additional on-boarding from South Texas Project Electric Generating Station, which had been shut down, plus coal-burning facilities will generate 2,000 more megawatts, powering 400,000 homes. But, “as of this time, there continues to be problems with natural gas-fired generators and wind generation,” Abbott said.
The governor is ordering natural gas producers who ship Texas-produced natural gas outside of the state to only sell to Texas providers through February 21. The governor said President Joe Biden is working with governors across the country to aid in spikes in natural gas prices.
“People want to know how decisions are made,” Abbott said, in relation to who regulates who gets power and who doesn’t. Basically, the state doesn’t control the decisions made by either city-owned or co-op-owned utilities. Only investor-owned utilities are regulated by the state, he explained. Some of these companies include Encore, CenterPoint, and Texas-New Mexico Power. (However, it should be noted that these investor-owned utilities make up about 85 percent of utilities in Texas, according to TAGVN, i.e. the state regulates the bulk of Texas electricity. Across the country, investor-owned utilities serve almost three-quarters of U.S. electricity customers, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.)
Abbott also said the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate will begin investigations of ERCOT next week, “making sure we get to the root of any missteps that took place.”
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Executive Director Toby Baker said 110 counties are currently seeing issues with water supply, and just under seven million people in the state are under boil water notices. These numbers will probably grow in the next day or two as well, he warned. Reasons for this include lack of power, frozen lines that have led to breaks, and extreme use of the water due to dripping pipes, which has been “pulling the pressure down on the system,” said Baker.
As weather warms and people start regaining their power, you might not get an immediate boil-water order lift, said Baker. Bacterial sampling for water can take up to 24 hours to test, and with so many counties having issues there will be a lot of tests to run. However, Texas is asking surrounding states to help with testing in order to not bottleneck local labs.
Plumbing is also going to be a byword in the coming days and weeks. “Many people have already experienced busted pipes,” and many more will deal with this as systems come back online and they see the places where pipes have broken due to the extreme cold, Abbott said.
He advised that people consider turning off the water supply as a preventative measure. If you do not turn it off, when power does come back on, the ice will melt and a busted pipe could flood your home. Turning off your water could prevent that.
Abbott also urged homeowners to get a plumber lined up and work with their insurance agent in advance on how to address the situation. Out-of-state plumbers can get provisional licenses in Texas to help, as can insurance adjusters. The governor will issue a waiver for previously licensed plumbers who haven’t completed continuing education to also help out. “We’re trying to make sure that we will have as many plumbers available as possible,” said Abbott.
If you live in an area that isn’t covered by insurance, FEMA may be able to help you. Keep receipts from any costs of any repairs you’ve had to do as a result of this storm, Abbott suggested. Work with your insurance first, and then with local charities, but the state is working closely with FEMA, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief W. Nim Kidd said.
Some other notes from today’s press conference:
- Transportation will “remain challenging” over the next few days, said Abbott.
- Call 311 if you’re in a city, or 211 out in the country, to find warming centers. You can also find locations at this website: https://tdem.texas.gov/warm/
Updated 12:20 p.m. February 17:
This isn't going to be over for a while longer yet, Mayor Sylvester Turner made clear during an update from the George R. Brown Convention Center at noon Wednesday. “We’re going to be in this a couple more days, and again I’m going to ask people to be mindful as they travel around the city, especially at night and in the morning when the temperature freezes,” Turner said, noting that more than one million in the Houston area are still without power.
He said that he expects power will not be fully restored other than continuing rolling blackouts for at least a couple more days.
Turner asked that people be sure to turn off the water especially if they are away from their home since when power comes back on the pressure will return and cause any frozen pipes to burst, an incident that, he noted, happened at his own home last night. He also noted that although the George R. Brown is past capacity, Harris County has opened warming centers around the area, and Lakewood Church and Gallery Furniture (we can always count on Mattress Mack!) have both opened their doors to those in need of shelter from the cold or who do not have adequate means to keep warm at home.
Shortly after Turner's presser, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo released a video urging residents to be cautious if they must go out since there's still ice on the road and many traffic lights are out across the county. She also asked that anyone still dripping their faucets turn them off now that the temperature has climbed back above freezing in an effort to help restore the area water pressure.
Update 9 a.m. February 17:
As you likely are already well aware, most households in Harris County are now without water, a situation that will not resolve until power is restored, according to a county statement. (Pro-tip: If you ignored all of that advice to fill up your bathtub while you still had water, some snow melted on the stove is not drinkable but works well in a pinch to flush a toilet.) If you do somehow still have water, boil water notices have been issued this morning, so boil it before using it for anything other than flushing the toilet.
And as far as power goes, ERCOT has stated that they are working hard to restore the state's hobbled energy grid, but the energy imports they'd been pulling in to help overcome the shortage had to be cut back because of the Midwest power emergency. Federal regulators announced on Tuesday that officials will be probing the many failures of the Texas system that has seen more than four million in the state without power during a record-setting winter storm, with 1.37 million of those left in the dark and cold right here in the Houston area. ERCOT stated that 600,000 homes would see power restored last night, but apparently most of those restorations were not in the Houston area. ERCOT now says there are about 2.6 million in Texas without power, with a little more than half of those outages, or 1.37 million of them, located right here.
If you are still without power, be careful about the means you are using to try and stay warm. So far, Harris County has seen 300 incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning, with many of them occurring as people tried using barbecue pits and generators indoors to stay warm, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Weather-wise, the new winter storm system will continue moving through the area dropping freezing rain until around noon when the freezing line should finally move to the northern edge of Harris County, according to SpaceCity Weather. Because of this new system moving through TranStar has already recorded more than 150 reports of icy roads this morning, so if you don't absolutely have to be on the move today, it's still best to do hunker down and stay home.
Update 5:25 p.m. February 16:
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo soundly scolded ERCOT on Tuesday afternoon for continuing to issue "optimistic" predictions on when those without power in the Houston area will finally see power restored, informing her and other leaders that generators are coming online, even as more people are reporting losing power. She said that CenterPoint has assured her that the utility company is ready to go, it just needs the product—i.e. the electricity—to be sent back through by ERCOT, and warned that considering the shortfall from ERCOT that has caused the statewide power outages, it would be wise to expect that these outages may even last once the worst of the cold weather has moved through. "Until we see that their optimistic reports are predicting less people losing power rather than more, we have to assume the worst," Hidalgo explained.
She urged that people be cautious about using unfamiliar methods of staying warm, and to be particularly leery of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as Houstonians prepare to make it through another cold, difficult night, and more potentially challenging days to come. "It's already been a long week, I know," Hidalgo said. "It's going to continue to be a hard week, but we will get through it."
Update 1:35 p.m. February 16:
During a noontime press conference, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that the city still does not have clear answers as to when 1.3 million Houstonians could have their power restored.
“People have every right to be frustrated,” Turner said.
The mayor was able to talk to the head of ERCOT this morning, and asked when people will have their power restored, but, Turner recounted, when he asked when to expect a full restoration of power for the Houston area, the agency would only say that they were working to get generation back online. “The hope is some power will be restored sometime today,” Turner said, noting that some households have had their power restored already.
Turner said he expects 400,000 households to have their power restored sometime today, but that other areas in town may have to lose power to make up for those households that do regain it, since the ERCOT grid is still overmatched. The mayor is also asking for downtown buildings to turn off their lights to help conserve energy and is requesting that folks with power generally try to use as little as possible today.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee was on hand during the press conference continuing her criticism of ERCOT and of the state's singular system that, she maintains, kept Texas from being able to borrow the power needed from other states to make up for the shortfall. Gov. Greg Abbott also announced that he was opening an investigation into ERCOT and what caused the outages that still have more than four million across Texas without power in record cold temperatures.
Heading into tonight, the forecast does call for freezing rain, which will likely make road conditions treacherous into Wednesday morning.
A few things to know heading into Tuesday evening:
- Critical care patients in need of ventilators, batteries, oxygen or more medical needs should get in touch with 311, neighbors are being asked to check in on seniors and neighbors.
- Neighborhood churches and community centers are being called upon to potentially open and let folks warm up inside.
- the city’s five warming centers are all operational, though the George R. Brown is maxed out with nearly 800 people inside (it was meant for 200-500); call 311 if you need to get to a warming center.
- Metro is transporting people to available warming centers; call 311.
- Lakewood Church is also taking folks into its warming center (also, try this handy map of area warming centers).
- Stay off the roads; HPD has responded to around 588 traffic accidents since Sunday.
- Don't bring grills inside for warmth; don't try to turn on a car/truck parked in the garage and heat yourself that way (carbon monoxide can kill you).
- The city is not turning off water and has not called for a boil advisory, but notes pressure is low, likely because of our current conditions. So if you don't have water right now, that is likely to continue until this situation resolves itself.
Update 8:55 a.m. February 16:
After another night of record freezing temperatures, the lowest seen in Houston since 1989, 1.37 million once again woke up to no power in their homes, as ERCOT's grid supply continues to see itself overmatched by demand and CenterPoint struggles to get customers back online. Right now, roughly 42 percent of those in the Houston area still have electricity, CenterPoint reports.
ERCOT has warned that these "rolling blackouts" (Mayor Sylvester Turner has disputed this term, contending that what he and others are experiencing is much more accurately described as power outages) will likely continue into Tuesday as Monday night's low temperatures continued to throw generators off the grid and put pressure on the system, which still only has an electric load shed of 18,500 megawatts.
With each megawatt supplying about 650 homes with electricity, it's clear we won't be out of this mess for a while yet. Especially since SpaceCity Weather has forecast that another winter storm will be rolling into the Houston area starting around 6 p.m. Tuesday night, dropping precipitation, including freezing rain, on the already frigid city through 6 a.m. Wednesday.
So far, ice has been reported on at least 200 roads in the Houston area, according to Houston TranStar. In other words, it's still best to hunker down, stay home, and stay off the roads right now.
Update 5:10 p.m. February 15:
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo urged people to have patience and be considerate of others on Monday afternoon as the Houston area continues to tough it out through some of the lowest temperatures recorded during this time of year in more than a century which more than one million in Houston and more than four million in Texas are enduring without heat. Hidalgo also warned that those who still don't have power—500,000 got power restored late this afternoon—should prepare to potentially be without it for the next couple of days as temperatures stay low and the demand for power continues to outstrip supply.
Hidalgo also recounted some good news. Due to the storm power outages taking a freezer offline more than 8,400 Covid-19 vaccines were in danger of going bad before they could be injected into people's arms on Monday. However, Harris County officials managed to move quickly and none of the vaccine doses were wasted, Hidalgo reported. Harris County Public Health gave doses to Rice, the Harris County Jail, Houston Methodist, Ben Taub, and Lyndon Johnson hospitals.
Tonight, temperatures are going to dip down into the teens and even in the single-digits in the outer-lying areas of the metroplex. There are windchill warnings in effect tonight and Houston area residents are still being urged to stay home and off the roads as much as possible. It is even more dangerous tonight since the snow has had a chance to melt and will now be freezing over again, forming black ice.
Update 1:50 p.m. February 15:
It's been a cold day with temperatures in the teens, and it is going to be a cold, frigid night, Mayor Sylvester Turner warned during his 1 p.m. press conference today, as what has certainly morphed into a horrendous situation for many in the city—with an estimated 1.2 million people out of power in our region—and record-low temperatures swiftly approaching as we head toward sunset. “Power outages are my biggest concern," Turner said.
He urged everyone in the city to hunker down at home. “I know it’s cold for people who have lost power in the city. I certainly understand that," Turner said. "I know it’s going to continue to be cold. I know people are working very hard with electric companies to restore power. I ask you to be patient."
Turner urged patience as utility companies work to restore power across the area. While Turner had warned people yesterday to prepare for rolling blackouts in the face of this statewide winter storm, today he was very clear that today Houstonians are experiencing power outages, which are different because due to the overloaded ERCOT system we will not see power come back on any time soon.
These outages have been caused by many different factors, including the sheer scope of this storm (although there are still significant unanswered questions about why the system was so ill prepared for this situation), which has caused generating facilities to either be frozen over (as is the case with the banks of wind turbines in West Texas) or had to be taken offline (i.e. some of the state's nuclear power plants). Those entities going offline has subsequently caused insufficient power supply to flow to CenterPoint and other local transmission companies, causing them to reduce the power supply by cutting off customers, which has kept the system online but has not actually reduced the demand for electricity right now. Hence why, if you are one of the many who lost power, you still haven't regained it yet. “They had to start shutting things down so everything doesn’t come down,” Turner said, noting that as difficult as this is, it would be much worse if the entire system did collapse since a total blackout would take days or even weeks to fix.
“We can have a conversation when this is all over,” Turner said, regarding what has gone wrong at ERCOT and the power companies that has allowed Houstonians and those across the state to be in this position in the first place. For now, he offered suggestions for how to get through the next 24 to 36 hours as safely as possible. “We will get through this," Turner said. "This is an unprecedented time. You’ve heard me say this before, but this too shall pass.”
ALL HOUSTONIANS SHOULD:
- Hunker down at home.
- Contact 211 or 311 if they know (or are) a critical care patient in need of medical care devices, including those that require battery power, those who might need access to additional oxygen, ventilators, dialysis machines, etc. “Reach out to us, and in some cases, we’ll be trying to reach out to you,” said Turner.
- Check in on seniors. “Many rely exclusively on TV and without power may not be getting these reports. Check on them.”
- Conserve water and water pressure (you don’t need to be doing laundry today).
- Stay off the roads, since melting snow will likely freeze making driving more risky after dusk. The roads will probably even be more dangerous than they were last night. “As soon as the sun comes down, we know it’s going to get from bad to worse,” added HPD Chief Art Acevedo.
IF YOU’RE WITHOUT POWER, YOU SHOULD NOT:
- Use gasoline-powered generators near your home, or charcoal heaters inside your home.
- Try to heat yourself in your truck or car if it’s parked inside your garage—this creates carbon monoxide, which could kill you.
IF YOU HAVE POWER, YOU CAN HELP BY:
- Lowering the thermostat (68 or below) to conserve energy
- Opening blinds and shutters
- Not using heavy appliances right now
- Conserving as much as you can, to keep others from losing power and to help speed up the point that all power can be restored
- Acknowledging that we all have a role to play, and that by doing our parts we will help each other get through this.
Update 12:25 p.m. February 15:
Mayor Sylvester Turner has tweeted that 1.15 million CenterPoint customers are currently without power, including Turner himself.
The latest report from CenterPoint indicates that 1,153,000 customers are without power. st— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 15, 2021
UPDATE 11:40 a.m. February 15:
After what can only be described as a disastrous news conference by ERCOT, in which questions regarding the timeline of rolling blackouts went largely unanswered, dozens of news networks brought to life the realtime Zoom-era horrors of echo-chamber unmuted chaos, and somebody accidentally slipped in a “I want to kill the networks” comment for all to hear, we still do not have many answers for the power outage crisis that’s unfolding across Houston and much of the state.
Nearly two million Texans are without power right now. Here in Houston, it’s estimated that 600,000 are without power.
Here’s a few things we do know:
- Around 10 a.m. CenterPoint announced that folks without power should prepare to be without power for the rest of the day.
- ERCOT told reporters that some outages may end up being multi-day outages.
- If you’ve lost power, it’s likely because you don’t have a hospital, first responders or other essential resources stationed nearby (sharing your area of the grid), so you’re part of a limited pool of areas that CenterPoint is able to pull from to rotate the outages.
- ERCOT did admit that these rolling blackouts, originally intended to last between 15 and 45 minutes, are now lasting indefinitely.
Our current power situation: Mayor Sylvester Turner appeared on KHOU earlier this morning to address concerns about the "rolling blackouts" that began hitting our area yesterday evening. Though these outages are expected to help conserve energy across the state, as the Texas power grid is being heavily drawn on due to the statewide low temperatures, the initial projected 15-minute to one-hour-long outage durations seem to be out the window, with folks from Fort Bend to League City complaining about having been without power for hours now—in some cases, up to seven hours and counting. To make matters worse, CenterPoint's power tracker has been down all morning.
These are not rolling blackouts. We are dealing with systemwide power outages across the state. st— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 15, 2021
Turner is calling this a system-wide outage failure, and estimates that about 600,000 people in the Houston area may be without power right now. CenterPoint is expected to make an announcement around 10 a.m. about what's going on with the electricity system and when people might be able to expect to get power back. Earlier this morning the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency that runs our electric grid, declared Texas to be in the highest level of energy emergency, a message CenterPoint also just reiterated via Twitter:
⚠ The Texas electric system is facing an unprecedented power shortage situation due to the extreme winter weather impacting the entire state, including Houston & the region. Texans’ electricity consumption needs have far surpassed current power generation. #houwx #hounews 1/10— CenterPoint Energy (@CNPalerts) February 15, 2021
If you're without power, keep your doors closed and stay bundled up. Officials are advising to stay inside at this time.
Our current roadway situation: Folks, you should not be driving a car today unless it's an absolute emergency. Last night there was a 10-car pile up on I-45 South, and Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo tweeted that police were dealing with 134 traffic crashes across Houston. So far this morning has been relatively quiet—so let's do our best to keep it that way, Houston.
Our roadways are extremely icy, please avoid travel. If you come to an intersection controlled by traffic signals that are out of power, treat it like a four way stop sign.— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) February 15, 2021