Could this upcoming winter season be just like last year's?

With winter just around the corner, there is a cold reminder of the February storms which devastated Austin and the rest of the state. 

"I think it’s important the people recognize that it could happen again, there’s probably a one or 2% chance that we get an event that is cold enough we could see some blackouts in Texas," said Texas A&M professor of atmospheric sciences Andrew Dessler.

Dessler said winters in Texas have a lot of factors in place which can make it difficult to determine early on if there will be another polar vortex heading towards the state. 

"That’s really a roll of the dice, I don’t think anybody really knows if we’re going to have a big winter storm or not," he said.

When it comes to the events of last February, Dessler said everything to create the winter storms fell into place, something which has a very low chance of happening any winter. 

"The cold air is sitting over the Arctic and in order for Texas to get really cold that air needs to come down," he said. "You have to have the polar vortex and the jetstream really dipped far south in the US and that’s what brings a very cold air down here. It’s unlikely but it does happen as we saw last February."

Dessler said when it comes to Texas, the area sees a freeze strong enough to cause a blackout about once every decade. For the storms in February, he said something of that scale is seen about every 75 years. 

"It doesn’t mean we won’t have one for another 75 years it just means there’s about a 1.5% chance that any year that could happen," he said. "There is a chance we could see it this year but it’s not very likely."

While the odds are low of another freeze resulting in rolling blackouts, Dessler said it’s best to always be prepared, then not at all. 

"Realize that it could happen and be prepared it’s like hurricanes, I tell people they live on the gulf coast every year the odds are you’re not going to get hit but if you do, it’s so bad that you really need to be prepared every year, and I think that’s true for winter storms also," he said.

If a blackout does occur this winter, FEMA recommends you have access to a generator, warm clothing, blankets, non-perishable food, water, and medication if needed.

Winter officially starts December 21.

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