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What's happening in Texas

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  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
What's happening in Texas
Posted by Pawel on Friday, February 19, 2021 10:51 AM

Hello!

I start reading news in the media about Texas and how bad winter has hit it - so I though I'd ask people who are there: What's happening and how are you managing?

Everybody - stay safe and I wish you all the best

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    September 2012
Posted by GMorrison on Friday, February 19, 2021 11:08 AM

One major factor is a weather event wildly beyond what the prep was for worst case.

Yes, heartbreaking.

 

Bill

 Modeling is an excuse to buy books.

 

  • Member since
    June 2018
  • From: Ohio (USA)
Posted by DRUMS01 on Friday, February 19, 2021 11:49 AM

My son and his family live in Houston and I talked with them just a few hours ago. To put things in perspective, radio and television news there is saying it is the coldest it has been in 100 years. Thier first black out was for over 36 hours. As of today the intervals have gotten better, there are still many people suffering.

The lack of electrical power has also impacted the availability of water. They are telling people to boil water before using it, but that only works for gas stoves; if you have an electric range you are out of luck. Also without water pressure to allow for moving.running water, many pipes have frozen and burst as well.

The building codes for homes down there are not the same as the more northern states, so the insulation and ability to retain heat in the home just isn't there either. 

Most all of the stores including quick marts and groceries cannot sell food or gas without power either. Those that managed to open now have empty shelves. 

My son is in kidney failure and requires dyalisis three times per week. The power outages have also impacted the ability of these places to remain open. The few that are open seem to be trying to service 5-10 other locations as well as thier own. 

They are suppose to see big improvements in the weather next week, but they still have a couple more rough days ahead.

My hopes and prayers are with them all....

 

I am a Veteran; to all other Veterans thank you for your service. Retired now and living well

PROJECTS:

- 1/48 RAH-66 Comanche - WIP

- 1/350 USS Alabama (GB) - DONE

- 1/16 1910 Thomas Flyer - DONE

- 1/78 AC-119 Stinger Gunship (GB) - DONE

 

 

 

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Friday, February 19, 2021 12:56 PM

     Anther reason Texas is suffering so much is because they rarely see weather like this. Located in the mid southwest it usually gets warm air and moisture up from the gulf of Mexico rather than the Arctic air felt in the Northren tier states. Most folks were or are completely umprepared for such phenomenom. My prayers go out to them as well.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: Mansfield, TX
Posted by EdGrune on Friday, February 19, 2021 1:43 PM

The electical grid in Texas is optimized for the summer months when 95+ days are the norm.   The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) is a consortiuum of electric generating companies who manage the distribution of power throughout most of the state.   In order to keep utility costs lower for a pro business environment, power generation facilities are taken offline during the winter when low temperatures of a few days in the 20s is the norm.   Maintenance is done, fuel stocks are depleted.   It takes an effort to bring them back on line.   It is not a flip of a switch.

The cold weather front which brought -2 degrees to the Dallas area, shattering the previous all-time record low of 8 set things in motion.   Calls for additional electric power stretched the grid to the breaking point.   Rolling blackouts were called for,  but system failures caused whole swathes of area to fail.   The initial assessment is that the grid was minutes from total failure - how close it was will be determined by investigations now starting.   Back in 2011 there was another cold snap - not as extreme or extensive.  Recommendations were made about ERCOT and its practices,  but there would be a cost involved.   Needless to say they were not implemented.  There is great political pressure to keep energy costs low for pro-business reasons.   A few wind turbines failed, but not enough to crash the system given the hundreds of acres of them there are in the western high plains.

With reduced electrical,  heaters which might have helped keep natural gas wellheads warm and pumping failed.  This reduced the available natural gas for alternative electical generation and/or home heating - gas heat & gas fire places.

Reduced electical also caused failures at water treatment plants; pump and valve failures.   There may be water in the lake but you can't get it through the plant into the storage tank.

There are only something like 29 show plows in the whole of the north central Texas DOT.   I think I read that there are 300 in the whole state.  Typically when a storm hits one area, DOT can borrow resources from other regions.   When the -2 degree event occured there were winter weather advisories for all 254 counties in Texas, all the way to the Rio Grande valley.  Why invest in a snow plow if it is only used once a decade?

Construction practices have many water pipes run through outer walls of structures.  Typical cold weather practice here is to drip your faucets mounted by exterior walls to keep the pipes from freezing, that and open the cabinet doors to allow the warmer room heat in to help too.

So now, colder than it has ever been before.   No electric for heat.  If your house is built for gas, no heat.   Your dripping your water faucet has depleted the water system or your pipes have frozen & burst (or will burst when they thaw).  Roads are covered with ice. There is a pandemic going on causing some people to refrain from going to disaster shelters, if they are open & they could get there.

No power in grocery stores - perishables get discarded.   Runs on staples and bottled water.  Trucks can't restock because they cant get there over the roads.   Oh, and by the way, many local food banks have been running large food distribution events due to job losses from the pandemic.  Food is already a concern in parts of the population

So what is going on in Texas?  It is a cascade of problems and events; many known about for a decade or more,  some unseen.   I won't go deeper into the politics/politicians.   They are part of the problem too.

For me in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, 4 to 6 inches of snow in the two storms.  Didn't loose gas or electicity.  Replaced my windows last winter and they performed well.  Ran thermostat at 64 to 66.  Brick construction with only kitchen & upstairs bathroom on exterior walls. Dripping & room heat worked well.   We had a good supply in the pantry and have eaten well, but will need to go to the store in a day or two.  I'm retired and don't need to go out.  My wife is a nurse and her schedule is flexible.  Fed  the birds, watched it snow

  • Member since
    August 2014
  • From: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posted by goldhammer on Friday, February 19, 2021 1:44 PM

Been in contact with tankerbuilder, says he got about 10" of snow, 40 miles north of San Antonio.  Hasn't seen mail for 5 days, among other issues.  Doing okay, but probably has a good case of cabin fever by now.

  • Member since
    July 2011
  • From: Armpit of NY
Posted by MJames70 on Friday, February 19, 2021 2:06 PM

Tough times for sure. The 'independence' of the Texas electrical grid was part of the problem, and it was not easy to borrow power or equipment from neighboring states when they were facing largely the same weather conditions. We'll see when it's investigated, but reports are going around the grid was maybe minutes from total collapse if the operators hadn't started instituting complete blackouts when they did. 

I have a friend that recently moved from NY to near Austin. I've been in touch with her, and fortunately she is alright, but has been staying in a hotel the last few days. I think when all the investigations are done this is going to prove to have been a 'really close one' to a major disaster. If the grid had gone down totally instead of being somewhat controlled, it could have been weeks or months of no power. 

  • Member since
    April 2020
  • From: West Texas
Posted by JBRaider on Friday, February 19, 2021 2:12 PM

We went 7 consecutive days below freezing with record lows and highs in the upper teens/lower 20's.I havent seen the totals but we also had about 6-8" of snow. Here in West Texas we are not on the same power grid so we only had a few short blackouts 15-20 minutes on Monday and Tuesday.

Many of the surrounding communities have had to boil water and our plumbers will be super busy for the next couple of weeks at least fixing broken pipes.

It is amazing how quickly things can change, currenty it is a beautiful day, 47 and Sunny.

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Friday, February 19, 2021 3:20 PM

Hello!

Sounds like some serious horror for some... Once again, my best wishes go to the people in the affected area.

And many thanks to my friends here who took the time to write detailed accounts - reading is so much more informative than what the media in my area have to say.

Please stay safe and let's hope "normal" weather returns soon.

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: USA
Posted by keavdog on Friday, February 19, 2021 3:23 PM

Echo all the above hearing from my daughter and son-in-law in San Antonio.  I think they're past the worst of it though.

Thanks,

John

  • Member since
    August 2020
  • From: Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia.
Posted by Dodgy on Friday, February 19, 2021 4:01 PM

Terrible times indeed. Jill's and my thoughts are with you all. Not much more I can say.

I long to live in a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned

  • Member since
    January 2015
  • From: Katy (Houston), TX
Posted by Aggieman on Friday, February 19, 2021 5:23 PM

I am a native Texan who has lived his entire life within a 100 mile diameter centered around the Houston area, so this is easily the worst winter weather I've experienced in my 53 years.  Here in Katy (Houston suburb, or as some say, East San Antonio), we got a bit of snow and ice with the temperature plummeting into the low 20s for several days this week.

Several friends and neighbors have seen their water pipes burst, which of course causes a lot of damage.  We lost electricity for about 12 hours, and I turned off the water at the main valve then drained all the lines in my house.  So far I've not experienced anything worse than the power outage.

I can't really speak to the issues related to the Texas electrical grid, but ERCOT (which oversees the grid, if I understand correctly) has become a bit of a hot potato politically speaking.  Apparently the electricity generation facilities were not "winterized" - but I'm not sure why one would invest in that when it rarely gets this cold.  Well, let me say, in this part of the State.  Texas is the largest continental State, and we have it all in terms of topography.  West and North Texas do get much harsher winter weather than what we see here on the Gulf Coast.

We are under a "hard freeze" warning for tonight, but after that, I imagine we'll be heading back to normal in short order.

This was my driveway and the facing street when I woke up Monday morning:

  While this may not be impressive for anyone north of the Red River (Texas - Oklahoma boundary), this is a winter wonderland for us here in the Houston area.
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 12:33 PM

The aftermath of the Texas ice and snow storm has been felt in Kentucky. We get parts shipped up to us from Texas, either a supplier or from the port down there.

We were very short on supplies at work last night, so much so that we went home an hour early. Today we were notified that our shift was canceled due to lack of parts.

Our company keeps running the line even when we are short parts so partially completed units go into a repair area. That area is now filled to the brim and we can't run any longer until parts get in so repair can complete those units and move them to the pack line.

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 2:30 PM

That's very interesting Rob!

Any chance of saying a little more about what kind of devices we're talking about here? Are those electric power grid parts?

Aggieman - looking very similar to what we had in Poland about two weeks ago. And the climate change made this pretty regular Polish winter absolute news for some small children, for who this was the first real winter they have seen! Good thing our power grid and buildings are designed to take weather like this. Of course in Texas building like that doesn't really make sense - except for once in 100 years :-(

Thanks a lot for your comments and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 3:27 PM

No, these are just pieces parts in the construction of higher end GE refrigerators ($2000-4000) models. The pandemic has created an appliance shortage in the US.

Many people worked from home and stayed home in lieu of going out. That resulted in reduced work/commute expenses as well as an increase in disposable income because people were not going out to eat, movies, amusement parks, etc.

So people who stayed home decided to take the time to do home renovations, specifically kitchen remodels.

The pandemic closed many appliance factories in the US and sharply reduced the amount of appliances being imported due to factory shutdowns overseas.

We normally have about 6 weeks of inventory on hand. Since last summer, we've been on mandatory overtime because we are still over 10,000+ units behind in production.

We usually have to advertise and provide deep discounts during Black Friday and other holiday sales (President's Day, Memorial Day, etc.). We haven't had to do that.

Units being made this week are still trying to fill orders placed before Christmas.

  • Member since
    August 2005
  • From: Mansfield, TX
Posted by EdGrune on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 3:53 PM

Here we are a week later and it is 80 degrees and sunny in the DFW area. A perfect late spring day.

For me, the snow and cold is a memory.   Electricity is back on and boil water notices have been lifted. For others there are still water & food issues.   Broken water pipes in houses & neighborhoods mean that there is no water available for some.   Power surges fried the electronics in home appliances.   Don't worry Rob, there is going to be sales of refrigerators real soon.   Two nurses who work with my wife lost their high end refrigerators to the power spikes.    I have since put a surge suppressor on my refrigerator outlet!  Federal Emergency Magagement Agency (FEMA) is accepting disaster relief applications and there is talk of the total dollar impact being greater tham that of Hurricane Harvey in Houston a few years back.

One patient of a friend is a building manager of a residential facility in Dallas.   They HAD a swimming pool on the roof.  Pipes froze and damaged 37 apartment units.   Most are not inhabitable.   Damage has been across all economic spectrum.

Another neighbor was having their bathroom remodeled prior to the storm.   The old one was pulled out.  Their plumbing contractor estimates a 6 to 8 week backlog of work, emergency pipe work, before he can get back to them.

Grocery stores are stocking back up, but there are purchase limits on many items.

Board members of ERCOT are starting to resign in advance of the investigations, on both the state and Federal levels.

Texas & Texans will survive and may come out of this with a changed outlook

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 6:57 PM
I'm not really worried about refrigerator sales, we're so behind that we're going to be on overtime for the foreseeable future. Which I detest. Our normal shift is 3:30 to midnight, but the overtime hours are 3:30 pm to 1:30 am. With commute, I leave home at 2 PM and get home at 2:30 AM. Which kind of sucks.
  • Member since
    October 2019
  • From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted by Tanker-Builder on Thursday, February 25, 2021 7:54 AM

Hi Pawel!

      Well, everything has kind of settled down now. Those freezing days can be just a Memory. To Most they'll go on again, as if nothing happened. Now there have been remarks about Boiling Water and such.

     None of our neighbors were prepared for sure. Yes, We Boiled water on our Coleman Camp stove. Many of my neighbors have Gas grilles. Did they use them on their Patios? Nope! We have thermal Blankets in our " Bug Out Bags." 

     These are large Backpacks with Dry shelf Edibles, Fresh water and Emergency clothing and Meds. We are no means Preppers. It was a game to see who could put together and still carry an emergency kit on our backs.

     I won! But mine was the lightest.The only weight of significance besides the water was my Loaded 1911 and three Magazines. I had enough to sustain for a week. So I used it! The Coleman stove is propane, but in the small bottles. We cooked and Boiled and washed. Never tried to turn on the heat. This would've been the breaker probably. Layered clothing and stayed put in our rooms.

     We had collected snow and put it in buckets ( For sanitary use.That worked too) I slept eleven hours the first day after it was really over. At my age an Ice Cube makes me feel cold-LOL.LOL! Oh and remember hearing about Kerosene Lamps and Flashlights, and My old Toshiba Portable Radio? They got used too!

      What I don't understand though is this. Our house was no Better or Worse where insulation was concerned. No pipes froze and the temp inside Never got below 55 Degrees Farhenheit. Go figure .The Birds, Amphibian and Canine pets and well as the Feline ones got by seemingly just fine. If it had lasted another week, well, who knows!

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Thursday, February 25, 2021 10:31 AM
Yeah, two weeks ago Kentucky was frozen solid in a sheet of ice and snow. The last three days it's been in the 60s and almost all evidence of snow is gone; just a spot here and there where snow was pushed and the sun doesn't hit it.
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