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Power Outages, Flight Cancelations, School Closures: Winter Storm Freezes Dallas

State and local officials are urging Texans to conserve energy as more than a million people experience rolling power outages statewide.
State and local officials are urging Texans to conserve energy as more than a million people experience rolling power outages statewide. Creative Commons/DJJudah
Amid a winter storm that has plunged temperatures and blanketed much of North Texas in snow, Dallas and the surrounding cities have come to a standstill.

State and local officials are urging Texans to conserve energy as more than a million people experience rolling power outages statewide.

Before dawn on Monday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, declared a Level Three Energy Emergency Alert (EEA 3) as temperatures dropped well below freezing. The agency, which manages the state’s power grid, warned that rolling blackouts would continue through Monday and possibly extend into Tuesday.

“Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,” ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said in a statement.

Although outages were initially meant to last 15 to 45 minutes, blackouts are now expected to be “significantly extended,” Oncor officials tweeted this morning.

Around North Texas, schools and universities have canceled classes, most flights have been canceled at DFW and Love Field airports and authorities have encouraged drivers to stay off the roads.

In Dallas, officials urged residents to stay home or seek shelter. Across North Texas, more warming centers and shelters have opened their doors, according to local media reports.

In a series of tweets, Mayor Eric Johnson said residents should unplug appliances they aren’t using and “keep conserving” electricity.

“We have thousands of residents experiencing power outages, many with elders and/or young children and it is critical for us to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all Dallas citizens and that will require diligence and sacrifice from us all." – Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua

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In a press release on Monday, Dallas City Council member Adam Bazaldua reiterated calls for city residents to conserve energy.

“We have thousands of residents experiencing power outages, many with elders and/or young children and it is critical for us to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of all Dallas citizens and that will require diligence and sacrifice from us all,” Bazaldua said.

Meanwhile, coronavirus vaccination sites in North Texas are expected to remain closed due to the weather, FOX4 KDFW reported on Sunday.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) has also implemented a revised schedule, with the light rail halted through Wednesday night and bus routes operating on a reduced schedule.

Ahead of the storm, on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all 254 counties in the state.

On Saturday, Abbott said he was requesting federal aid from the Biden administration. The governor also said state agencies and departments are being deployed to help handle the fallout from the weather. These include the Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Forest Service, among others.

“Texas should heed the guidance of their local leaders and stay alert to changing weather conditions in their area,” Abbott said in Friday’s statement. “These resources will help us respond to this severe winter weather and keep our communities safe. The State of Texas remains in close contact with officials on the ground and will provide any additional resources and support that are needed.”
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.