Last week’s winter weather was record-breaking for both the Bryan-College Station area and the entire state of Texas.
Between the heavy precipitation and freezing temperatures, meteorologists are calling it a once-in-a-lifetime weather event. When the snow came through late on Valentine’s Day, all 254 counties in Texas had a winter storm warning — a first for Texas. Though, that feat is not the only record that was broken in Texas, as many places reached record low temperatures.
With a thick blanket of snow and single-digit temperatures, this phenomenon was something many locals and Texas A&M students have never experienced. KBTX chief weatherperson and A&M lecturer Shel Winkley said this was “the coldest weather we have seen since the late 1980s” in the Bryan-College Station area.
“More locally, we had winter warnings in effect for the Brazos Valley that had never been issued before, and that was because we had wind chills below zero and that was historic in itself,” Winkley said.
Although Monday’s snow was hard to measure due to the high winds, Winkley said KBTX is estimating that the average accumulation in the area was three to five inches over the various storms. However, there were snow drifts that were anywhere from seven to nine inches.
Winkley said KBTX is researching the record for the most snow in one year to determine if these winter storms have surpassed that mark, as it is very uncommon for the area to have multiple snowfall in one year.
“That is probably the most snow we have seen in one year in quite some time, if not ever,” Winkley said.
With the storms, Texas has seen both electricity problems and damaged pipes due to energy overload and freezing temperatures. These carried on throughout last week with 69,000 Texans still without power as of Saturday, demonstrating how impactful this storm was on people in Texas.
“This was a once-in-a-generation storm. It was part of the polar vortex breaking free. We had a big warm high that was sitting basically on top of the north pole,” Winkley said. “While it seems counterintuitive that this goes along with climate change and global warming — extreme weather events like this — there is still cold in the world, so extreme weather events like this are caused by climate change. It has happened before, and it will happen again.”
As the storms begin to subside, both Gov. Greg Abbott and President Joe Biden are beginning to declare disasters for damages within the state while some are looking for assistance to help with problems that were caused by the snow. In a Feb. 20 statement from the White House, Biden lists the assistance and funding that is available to those affected by the storm.
“Yesterday, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of Texas and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by severe winter storms beginning on Feb. 11, 2021, and continuing,” the statement reads.