Severe Cold and Intense Winter Storm Strike Southern US


February has become an odd month for places all across the Midwest and the Southern Plains, as a historic cold snap has paralyzed the region. From record low temperatures, historic winter storms, as well as some unusual sights in terms of tracking weather, the effects of this cold snap are very much visible, and will be remembered by millions.

US Watches and Warnings as of 3:30 PM CDT on February 16, 2021. Winter Storm Warnings denoted in pink. Image courtesy of the National Weather Service.

When Texas was placed under a winter storm warning, all 254 counties, that is, it was a significant event that had never been observed before since the logging of such warnings. Northern areas along the Texas panhandle typically see winter events a few times a season, but places as south as Brownsville being in a winter storm warning really goes to show how far this cold snap has reached, and how much the impacts of it have spread. Because of this cold snap, there are now millions without power, and states have also gone as far as to begin controlled outages, some areas which never had to go that far ever before. This snap has also had its toll when combined with the historic winter storm that has just passed, with several people in the hospital in Texas, and one dead in Louisiana.

Record lows et during the cold snap. Image courtesy of the NWS Weather Prediction Center.


The impact of the cold snap could also be observed with the wind chills, extending all the way from the Canadian border in both North Dakota and Minnesota, all the way south to the Texas-Mexico border. Criterias are different for wind chills when comparing the border’s temperatures, but the overall picture was that temperatures in areas that were under these warnings were much colder than what would be expected in this part of winter. The snap proved to be the worst since the December 1989 Cold Wave. Areas from North Platte down through the Houston metro all recorded their coldest temperatures since the cold wave from that year. Houston dropped to 17 degrees, Dallas dropped to 5, and Oklahoma City dropped even further to -6. Kansas City reported a frigid wind chill of -32, which according to the National Weather Service, was the coldest wind chill there since 1989 as well. The historic cold snap that has taken place has shown how much the power of winter can bring to unusual locations, and it has unfortunately brought with it significant effects that will last over the coming days and possibly weeks.

Interests across the eastern US should begin to prepare if the winter storm and deadly cold may impact them, including staying tuned to our regional channel covering US Weather, Force Thirteen US. Stay safe and stay tuned for updates!

Written by Xavier Burns, adapted and formatted by Preston Schenk



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