Lone Star State Besieged by Bad Weather: Biden Declares Major Disaster in Texas
by Eileen Cooney ’23
On Feb. 20, President Joseph Biden declared a major disaster for the majority of the state of Texas in the wake of a severe winter storm that left most of the state without electricity and killed 28 people. In recent days, more than 14 million Texans have been under boil water advisories, which remain in effect for more than 189 counties. The Texas Army National Guard has been deployed across the state in order to conduct welfare checks, assist local authorities, and find those who are in need of warming stations. Additionally, since many Texans are without water, the National Guard has delivered more than 28,000 water bottles.
President Biden’s declaration of a major disaster unlocks grants for temporary housing, home repairs, and low-cost loans in order to protect those who have property that is uninsured. In addition, these funds will help small businesses recover from the effects of the storm and provide federal aid to local government offices and nonprofit organizations so that they can provide protective measures and enact danger mitigation efforts.
Additionally, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has helped raise more than $4 million in relief efforts in conjunction with Texas’s 29th congressional representative, Sylvia Garcia, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who represents Houston, TX. In a press conference, Ocasio-Cortez said, “This shows that New York stands with you, but the whole country also stands with you.”
This is in sharp contrast to other politicians who have taken heat for their response to the storm in recent days, in particular, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. On Wednesday, Feb. 17, Cruz was seen boarding a flight with his family to Cancún, Mexico while millions of his constituents remained without power or running water in record cold temperatures. Cruz claimed that he was traveling to Cancún “to be a good dad” to his daughters and wife, saying, “On the one hand, all of us who are parents have a responsibility to take care of our kids, take care of our families. But I also have a responsibility that I take very seriously in fighting for the state of Texas.”
For at least 12 hours after photos emerged of him at the airport, Cruz’s office refused to provide a comment. However, after facing intense public backlash, Cruz flew home, admitting that the trip was “obviously a mistake” and that he had “second thoughts” about it. He spent just one day on his trip.
This winter crisis in Texas and other states across southern America has profound implications, suggesting that climate change is bringing with it intense, volatile fluctuations in weather patterns. Alice Hill, who oversaw planning for climate change risks under the Obama administration, says, “We are colliding with a future of extremes.” Experts have been warning that other states and electrical grid operators should take note of the causes of the current situation in Texas.
On Saturday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas, Texas’s utility regulator, reported that it was investigating the factors that, combined with extreme winter weather effects, disrupted the distribution of electricity to millions of Texans. Additionally, Governor Greg Abbott is convening an emergency meeting to investigate and examine what occurred.
Bursting the PC Bubble: Arctic Blast
by Kyle Burgess ’21
The weather outside is looking rather frightful for many east coast residents as they brace for an Arctic blast set to shatter nearly 300 cold temperature records, providing a winter wonderland atmosphere two weeks before Thanksgiving arrives.
The coldest winds of the season are to blame for this dramatic drop in temperature, rolling across the Great Plains and towards the Atlantic Ocean. These winds are causing sub-zero readings in Minnesota and temperatures barely reaching the teens in Texas before moving on to bombard New England, the Deep South, and everywhere in-between.
In anticipation of the freeze, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward warned that some places in the East could experience temperatures on Wednesday afternoon up to 30 degrees below average. The National Weather Service echoed such sentiments, claiming that there was “potential for widespread record cold morning low temperatures and record low afternoon high temperatures” across the central and eastern United States.
Wintry conditions have already begun to take their toll in several states, like a fatal car crash in Osage County, KS that was the result of a driver losing control of their vehicle due to the icy highway and colliding head-on with an SUV, killing an infant and injuring three others. Missouri has also experienced its fair share of slip and slide conditions, leading to dozens of crashes.
Meanwhile, air traffic has been hit just as hard, with NBC reporting that around 2,000 flights at O’Hare International Airport had been delayed or canceled as of Monday afternoon with one plane sliding off a runway. Incoming flights experienced an average of six hours delayed with passengers for outgoing flights having to wait as long as 16 hours.
It just so happens that PC found itself in the bullseye of the storm’s path, with the heaviest snowfall expected in New England and the Great Lakes region as of Monday evening. Some locations were told to prepare for more than a foot of snow, although this was not entirely unexpected. Enhanced lake-effect snow was set to produce higher snow totals as freezing and windy conditions form over a not-so-cold lake, providing the perfect source for snowfall.