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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Opinion: Texas must be better prepared for severe winter weather

Weather+illustration
Weather illustration

On Feb. 3, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued a local disaster declaration due to the winter storm that left thousands of central and east Texans without power. In Hays County, all school districts canceled classes and several local businesses closed including grocery stores and restaurants.
More investment in protecting roadways and power lines should be the focus of the Texas Legislature to keep the lights on during extreme weather events.
Texas is no stranger to freezing weather. According to John Nieslon-Gammon, a climatologist for the state of Texas, areas north of Interstate-35 average at least one day of freezing rain each year. Additionally, San Marcos temperatures have dipped below freezing every year on record, according to weatherspark.com.
With extreme weather events like one of the hottest Texas summers on record in 2022, the winter storm of February 2021 or the most recent freezing temperatures becoming more frequent, local and state officials need to bite the bullet and spend the necessary money on improving infrastructure and disaster services.
The problem is a local and state issue. The Texas power grid gets its weaknesses exposed every time an ice storm rolls around, and cities in Texas fail to prepare by not supplying their energy companies with the necessary resources to lessen the damage of these storms.
In this most recent ice storm that affected central Texas, heavy ice accumulation of trees caused branches to fall on power lines causing power outages in respective communities and leaving 60,000 Texans without power, according to the Texas Tribune. A lack of salt or sand on the roadways also caused car accidents, which according to the New York Post, left seven Texans dead.
The days when a snow day in Texas was rare are over. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), rainstorms and other extreme weather events are becoming more severe and more common. The USEPA says that, in the coming decades, this increase in severity and commonality will lead to more and more problems for human health.
Had local governments allocated some of their funds to more sand or ice for roadways, several Texans might not have died due to negligence. Had local governments supplied their energy companies with the tools to cut the overhanging branches above power lines, tens of thousands of Texans might not have lost power.
The Texas Tribune reported that Texas will have a record-breaking $188 billion budget for the 2024-25 cycle which means that Texas lawmakers will have more than enough money to better prepare the state for extreme weather events.
Texas can use that massive budget to invest in better tools to lessen the effects of winter storms. In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Rep. Erin Zweiner said that buying more trucks for energy companies and other resources to de-ice roadways is worth it if Texans can safely reach things like hospitals, even if not utilized as often as a northern state would use them.
Other things to lessen or prevent the effects that may be more expensive include burying power lines or increasing the capacity of megawatts the power grid can withstand during the winter.
After the winter storm of February 2021, the energy and power grid was a hot topic amongst politicians, and this past election saw more of the same talk. In the September 2022 Texas election debate, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott touted the power grid’s reliability, using the winter of 2022 as an example of the energy infrastructure’s progress. However, thousands of Texans still lost power in 2023, symbolizing a body of work yet to be done by Texas lawmakers.
In Zweiner’s interview with The Tribune, she alluded that winter storm preparations might come of use sparingly. It’s a fair criticism to say that Texas should invest its funds elsewhere because winter storms haven’t been a common occurrence. With the Texas climate becoming unpredictable, however, these preparations are necessary.
The Texas power grid was constructed for when the weather was predictable and consistent and there wasn’t a need for the grid to withstand freezing temperatures every year. When looking at the weather forecast for the next decades in Texas, however, local and state governments need to make the necessary preparations to lessen or prevent the effects of extreme weather events.
– Carson Weaver is a mass communications senior
The University Star welcomes Letters to the Editor from its readers. All submissions are reviewed and considered by the Editor-in-Chief and Opinions Editor for publication. Not all letters are guaranteed for publication.

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