Behind the Numbers of the February 2021 Power Outages
Updated: May 9
Severe winter weather across the United States this week has caused emergency declarations, power outages and hazardous road conditions. At one point more than 4,000,000 American were without power. The bad weather was widespread, with more than a third of the continental US recording below-zero temperatures. The states most seriously impacted thus far are Texas, Oregon, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia.
Many families affected by the outages sought refuge with relatives or hunkered down with generator-powered space heaters and fireplaces to keep warm. Utility officials say it could be days before power is restored to everyone. Linemen are the line of first response to severe winter weather events like this often resulting in accumulated ice on trees and power lines.
Linemen face a dangerous and demanding task, in addition to the below-freezing temperatures. Ice accumulation can weigh down power lines so much that they break, or tree branches can fall and take the lines with them. Linemen must clear some debris, if needed, and then shimmy up icy utility poles to restring lines using belts and spiked boots. The outages of this week were caused by both weather as well as rolling black outs to conserve energy.
As linemen across the country begin what will be a grueling week restore power we analyzed over 2,000 utility, state and municipal announcements regarding the outages and cross referenced them against data from the U.S. Energy Information and Administration and Poweroutage.Us to provide some illustrative detail to who are amongst the hardest hit across the country. The Lineman Career analysis is not a criticism of the utility providers but rather a highlight of hard work that crews are under taking to return service.
Texas Power Outages
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Military Department have deployed the National Guard to conduct welfare checks on residents, as the state continues to battle bitter cold and a winter storm, according to a news release from his office.
Oregon Power Outages
More than a quarter-million customers remain without power in Oregon and southwest Washington as a direct result of the wicked storm that downed more than 4,400 power lines. On Monday morning, Oregon Governor Kate Brown released a statement on the continued weather and power issues. The statement said, in part: “Utilities in our region have never experienced such widespread outages, including during the September 2020 wildfires. The state of emergency I declared on Saturday will ensure that all necessary state resources are available on the ground to help Oregonians impacted by this winter storm.”
Louisiana Power Outages
Thousands of people are without power across Louisiana as icy winter storms move across the state. Forecasters say heavy freezing rain or sleet is expected to continue across Louisiana. on Monday to bring significant impacts. Areas north and west of Bogalusa to Hammond to Pierre Part will see the most severe impacts. Lafourche Parish has instituted a parish-wide curfew. There is a chance New Orleans will be put under a citywide boil water advisory if there are major water main breaks from the freezing water.
Mississippi Power Outages
Over 55,000 homes and businesses in Mississippi were without power Monday because of severe winter weather, and experts say some outages could last up to a week in rural areas. The duration of power outages in certain places depends on how well power crews will be able to navigate the dangerous road conditions caused by ice, sleet and freezing rain.
Virginia Power Outages
A steady stream of frozen rain and ice was a common scene in the greater Richmond area on Saturday. These dangerous conditions snapped trees and closed roads in Petersburg and downed powerlines in Chesterfield.