Roadways Are Expected To Be Dangerous
AUSTIN – Last year’s February Snovid event has many Texans making extra preparations before this week’s winter storm. From extra groceries to propane tanks and generators, residents across the state are hoping to be ready for any power outages.
Meanwhile, Governor Greg Abbott provided an update on Texas’ response to winter weather that is expected to impact the state in the next few days. Severe cold weather, snow, and ice are expected throughout Texas starting tomorrow and lasting through the end of the week. The Governor urged Texans to be cautious and avoid travel if possible, as roadways are expected to be dangerous.
The Governor was joined for a briefing and a press conference by representatives of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), Railroad Commission of Texas, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Military Department, Texas A&M Forest Service, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of State Health Services, and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
State Officials Working Around The Clock
“The State of Texas is working around the clock to respond robustly to the substantial winter storm that is expected to impact our state over the coming days,” said Governor Abbott. “Every state agency is in close communication and coordination to provide resources and valuable information to keep Texans safe during these winter weather conditions. Texans are urged to avoid driving on roads and closely monitor weather conditions and guidance from local and state officials over the coming days as we work together to keep our loved ones safe.”
The Governor addressed power generation capacity ahead of the incoming winter weather. He discussed the additional generation the state has brought online to strengthen the resiliency of the electric grid. ERCOT forecasts that the electric grid will be reliable and there will be enough power supply to meet demand.
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The PUC has completed a multi-month inspection process of power generators and over 99 percent have winterized their facilities. The generation and transmission system meet and exceed federal winterization standards. The state has also identified critical natural gas infrastructure to ensure these facilities maintain power and operations during the winter weather. The PUC will continue to monitor grid conditions across the state. Additionally, ERCOT will monitor weather conditions and will update electricity demand forecasts as the weather event progresses.
Do Not Run A Generator Inside
The Governor urged Texans to stay off the roads if possible. Abbott noted that the Texas Department of Transportation began pre-treating roads this past Sunday. Crews will continue to treat roads in the coming days. He also warned Texans against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, and stressed that Texans should not bring generators inside their homes.
The Railroad Commission of Texas has conducted operational calls with local gas distribution companies, major gas producers, and pipeline operators throughout the state. They have also inspected 100 percent of intrastate underground natural gas storage facilities.
TDEM has a winter weather webpage on tdem.texas.gov. TDEM is also hosting daily statewide weather briefings for jurisdictional priorities and life safety updates and hosting daily energy industry coordination calls to address industry resources requests. In addition, TDEM Mass Care is stationing water and meals ready to eat at Resource Staging Areas across the state. Lufkin and San Antonio warehouses are stocked with blankets, cots, water, ice chests, air beds, medical cots, and additional supplies.
A Regional Emergency Declaration issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration coordinated by TDEM during the January cold weather threat remains in effect until February 6. This declaration allows for extension of hours of service for propane and natural gas transportation. The State Operations Center is activating Wednesday morning at Level 2 (Escalated Response) in support of winter weather. The State Operations Center will be staffed continuously. It will provide updates on utility and electric outages across the state during the storm.
The following additional resources have been rostered and deployed in support of the state’s winter weather response:
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality: Emergency Management Support Teams (EMST), Disaster Response Strike Teams (DRSTs) and emergency response hazmat contractors are on standby for possible deployment to assist local governments with any air/water/waste related issues including drinking water/wastewater issues and/or emergency response activities. Notified Public Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems to provide reminders to operators on regulatory guidance, procedures, and preparedness steps to take in advance of approaching winter weather. Worked with ERCOT to review TCEQ’s Power Emergency Procedures. Workgroup created to screen emissions reports for cold weather-related causes for consistent processing. Contacted EPA Region 6 to begin coordination of any possible response activities and resource requests.
Texas Department of Transportation: All 25 TxDOT Districts are engaged in winter weather preparations. Crews are ready for 24 hour operations. Pretreatment of roads began over the weekend.
Texas Military Department: 130 personnel and 50 vehicles are rostered, as well as one command and control package. 5 Winter Weather Mission Ready Packages staged in cities across the state. Rostered one command and control package.
Texas Forest Service: Rostered response packages including more than 29 vehicles and more than 50 personnel across Texas.
Texas Department of State Health Services: Coordinating with Hospital Preparedness Providers on resource needs as well as requirements for hospital reporting of facility issues (power outages, water issues, medical surge staff, or overnight lodging requirements). Coordinating with Texas Emergency Medical Task Force on winter needs. Coordinating with Texas Department of Health and Human Services on plans for emergency evacuation of State Supported Living Centers or other facilities if needed.
Texans are encouraged to monitor road conditions at drivetexas.org. Texans can also access power line safety reports and contact their transmission company at puc.texas.gov.