Texas Cold Front Causes Serious Natural Gas Production Concerns: Here’s Why

by Josh Lanier
(Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)

Texas got the first test of its power grid in 2022 during a recent cold snap, and some experts say the state failed. That leaves many worried about how the Lonestar State would be able to handle another major storm. Last year, Winter Storm Uri overwhelmed the power grid there killing hundreds.

At the first of the year, cold temperatures cut the state’s natural gas production by 20 percent, according to a report. Operators closed more than 400 gas-fired plants on Jan. 2 because of fuel shortages. The power grid absorbed the loss without issue, officials said, but it exposed flaws in the system.

“I think it means the gas system’s not ready for another cold snap,” said Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “It wasn’t even really cold. It was cold, but nothing close to Winter Storm Uri [in February].”

During Uri, thousands went days without power in Houston and areas across Texas during below-freezing temperatures. More than 200 people died in Texas as a result of the storm. Since then, regulators have worked to fix issues with the system to avoid similar problems. Though, regulators admit they have a lot of work left to do.

They said the problems earlier this month aren’t a concern, as they anticipate some fluctuations in gas production.

“Some variation in production occurs with sudden temperature changes,” the association said. “The recent variation in natural gas production was within expected operating ranges and was not unique to Texas, and it did not lead to emergency conditions.”

Severe Winter Storm Set to Hit Midwest, South, Northeast

Forecasters warn that the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend could be a cold one for much of the country. A winter storm could send snow and ice to the Midwest and part of the South. The storm could send the wintry mix as far south as Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia, CNN reported.

Though, the predictions about the storm’s path vary wildly. Still, the National Weather Service wants people who live in those areas to prepare as the possibility of severe weather is high.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers laid out a bleak picture for the areas in the storm’s path.

“Although the track is far from certain, models do tell us that a major winter storm is on the way for some areas of the Southeast and up the East Coast,” Myers said. “Impossible snowy travel, significant ice storm power outages, and wind gusts over 40 mph are all in play, and, right now, the track of the storm is key.”

Forecasters warn the storm will move into the upper Midwest tonight and Friday morning and could cause major problems.

“This next storm system is primed to produce heavy snow and will result in treacherous travel conditions across parts of the Northern Plains and Midwest to close out the work week,” the Weather Prediction Center warned.