Gov. Abbott provides update on Texas' winter storm response
AUSTIN, Texas - A large portion of Texas was in a deep freeze caused by a winter storm. The weather briefing to Governor Greg Abbott Tuesday morning made it clear the large deployment of state personnel and resources will remain in play.
The state emergency operations center was ramped up yesterday in advance of the storm.
"There are almost 4,000 professionals who are working to respond to the storm, and more than 2,500 pieces of state equipment are being used to respond to the storm," said Gov. Abbott.
A lot of the focus for the past 24 hours has been on North Texas where roads started freezing up yesterday afternoon, especially around Dallas and Lubbock.
National Guard units are helping with the road, and that effort also includes rapid response chainsaw teams from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
"Approximately 1,600 roads are impacted. TxDOT has used more than 3 million gallons of brine and other material to treat the roadways," said Gov. Abbott. "Anybody who needs to be out driving needs to be very cautious of the conditions because your eye may not be able to perceive the hazard that is in front of you."
Clearing roads are taking more than 2,100 pieces of equipment from TxDOT. Clearing big rig crashes is one of the most difficult challenges.
"As the traffic backs up, we're not able to get in and treat that. And it may take a while for us to be able to clear locations when these types of incidents occur," said TX DOT Executive Director Marc Williams.
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The highway treatment strategy included a focus on natural gas suppliers, keeping pathways to critical pipelines open.
"And pipeline operators are reporting that pressure is steady and that those lines are packed. So we should have plenty of gas for the state," said Christi Craddick with the Texas Railroad Commission.
That effort is helping ERCOT keep the power grid up and the lights on.
"The ERCOT grid is not expecting to have any emergency conditions during this event, nor are we expecting a need to ask for conservation of any Texans," said ERCOT CEO Pablo Vegas.
Some icing on wind generators was reported, according to PUC Chairman Peter Lake.
"ERCOT's forecasting is taking that into account. We don't expect much wind generation throughout this winter weather event, but despite that, we have adequate reserves and are prepared to meet all the demand for electricity in Texas," said Lake.
Local outages are still possible, warned Chief Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management.
"You've also heard that the electric grid in Texas is ready for this event. I will tell you, that won't stop people from having wrecks and hitting power lines and knocking down power lines and taking out transformers that could cause electricity outages at your home or business. You need to be prepared for that as well," said Kidd.
The urgency behind that warning, is because a re-freeze is possible. Icy conditions could linger beyond Wednesday morning.