Deep in the Snow of Texas

Frozen power lines seen hanging near a sidewalk on February 1 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images.)

Funny thing about Texas: Every other driveway has a Super Duty truck in it–the kind you can run a snowplow with–but nobody can deal with a little bit of winter weather. 

At least, that’s true in the parts of the state where the people are. In the far west of the state, they get real winter sometimes (they call that town Alpine for a reason) and the panhandle town of Dumas is a lot closer to Denver than it is to Houston, so they’re used to winter, too. But almost all of the people (86 percent or so) live along the I-35 corridor or east of it in the places that give Texas its hot, muggy reputation. 

Those places are in meltdown right now—or, rather, they are praying for meltdown: of the snow and ice that has brought urban and suburban life in Texas to a temporary halt. In Dallas, you pretty much can forget about Uber or food delivery, nearly 2,000 flights have been canceled, and only the brave and the desperate are on the roads. You know things are serious because they’ve even closed down the shooting ranges: We have a shooting range here that’s open on Christmas

In Austin and elsewhere, thousands are without power. Gov. Greg Abbott is being ritually denounced by the usual partisan know-nothings as though this were a replay of the grid failure of 2021, but the grid is humming along just fine, producing as much power as Texans need, according to the people who oversee it. The problem is that when tree branches ice up, they get heavy and fall on powerlines, knocking out service. Fixing that is slow work when you’re driving around in a service truck on a surface better suited for a Zamboni. It is also mostly the work of local power companies, not the business of the governor or a state agency. 

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