The National Center for Environmental Information has declared the Southern Plains cold snap in early February to be the first billion dollar weather disaster of 2021. In fact, it is estimating the cost at over $10 billion. During early February, weather that was cold, but not unusually cold for our region, dropped south into Texas where it lingered an unusually long time.
Much of central and south Texas remained below freezing for 10 or 11 days in a row, with two or three periods of snow and freezing rain during that stretch. The protracted cold forced the shutdown of many oil and gas refineries along the Texas coast, creating a huge energy crisis. Millions of people went two weeks or longer without heat, resulting in frozen water pipes throughout the region. Numerous communities remain under strict orders to use only boiled water because of contamination.