Predicting and planning for the next polar vortex?

We say we can predict and plan for climate chaos 50 years out, but not an imminent vortex?

Duggan Flanakin

Americans know a lot about planning for hurricanes, and about voluntary and mandatory evacuations. They also know that some hurricanes bring major damage to urban and rural areas, and that sometimes (Katrina comes to mind) people’s failure to heed calls to “get outta Dodge” can have disastrous results.

The National Weather Service website explains, whenever a tropical storm forms in the Atlantic or eastern North Pacific [or central North Pacific], the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center issues tropical cyclone advisories at least every six hours. Once a hurricane watch or warning is issued, the advisories come every three hours.

When evacuation orders are issued, there are always a few who opt to “ride out the storm,” for fun and excitement, or fearing the theft of their property more than their possible loss of life. Even then, rescue teams risk their lives in dangerous weather to save those losing their crazy gambles with storms.

On January 11, National Geographic warned, “The polar vortex is coming – raising the odds for intense winter weather,” caused by a sudden major rise in temperatures in the stratosphere above Siberia. This polar vortex “could mean frigid winter weather pummeling the U.S. Midwest and Northeast and the mid-latitude regions of Europe.” Not a word about intense cold in the American southwest.

On January 28, NOAA’s website announced, “The POLAR VORTEX is coming!!!!!” NOAA explained that the impetus for this extremely rare event was a “sudden stratospheric warming” [SSW] that occurred on January 5. Such an event happens about six times per decade, NOAA says.

NOAA acknowledged that parts of Europe had already seen very cold weather in the north and stormy weather in the south, but gave no specific warning that disaster was imminent in any specific parts of the United States.

Shortly thereafter, meteorologist Joe Bastardi predicted in his Twitter feed that “Texas is going to be tested on so many levels” by the coming storm. He acknowledged that NOAA’s own forecasting model prompted comparisons to the disastrous 1899 polar vortex incident that dropped temperatures below zero in every U.S. state.

On February 3, Jennifer Gray at CNN announced, “It’s about to get so cold that boiling water will flash freeze, frostbite could occur within 30 minutes, and it will become a shock to the system for even those who are used to the toughest winters.” She went on to say “the coldest air of the season will be diving south, not leaving anyone out. Every single state in the U.S. – including Hawaii – will reach below freezing temperatures on Monday morning” [February 8].

The next day, Austin’s KXAN-TV issued its own “First Warning: Extended Arctic blast coming to Texas.” Emmy-winning meteorologist David Yeomans noted that his actual first warning had come a month earlier – the day the SSW event had occurred.

Yeomans said the cold front would likely slam into Texas by February 9, “cooling us off dramatically by the middle of next week.” While “this pattern may last for an extended amount of time,” Yeomans predicted just “4 to 5 days where local temperatures will remain in the 30s and 40s into Valentine’s Day weekend.” He concluded that, while “some precipitation appears possible … it is too soon for specifics on this Arctic outbreak and potential winter storm.”

But he did not foresee the impending disaster; nor did most others in the field. And yet actual lowest temperatures in Austin reached 9o F (-13 C) – the lowest in 32 years and just the fifth single-digit low in a century. Not until Valentine’s Day did the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) declare an “energy emergency alert three” that mandated rolling outages.

Texans were clearly not prepared by their federal, state or local governments, or even their local news media outlets, let alone ERCOT, for the magnitude of this polar storm – or for the devastation it could and did cause. People get a warning to prepare prior to hurricanes. But this time there was no urgent demand that people lay in food, turn off or otherwise secure water pipes against a deep freeze, expect water cutoffs, plan for lengthy power and heating outages, and be ready for horrific driving conditions.

Lone Star State public officials are getting slammed for their lack of foresight. But Texans are not alone in this disaster. Over 100,000 Oregonians went all week without electric power days after a snow and ice storm swept through that region. Portland General Electric (PGE) spokesperson Dale Goodman, noted that over 2,000 power lines were still down two days after the storm. “These are the most dangerous conditions we’ve ever seen in the history of PGE,” he lamented.

This is after PGE had worked tirelessly to restore power for over half a million other customers who’d been affected by the polar storm. As in Texas and elsewhere, people there died from carbon monoxide poisoning, food spoiled, and many of the 200,000 Oregon customers who lost service were told they may not get their Internet back for weeks. Oregon is much smaller than Texas, with fewer people and colder weather. Portland’s average February temperature is 10o F cooler than Austin’s.

In the aftermath of this massive storm – which also caused major power outages in Louisiana, Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia – there will be plenty of time to evaluate where forecasts went wrong, assess blame, and determine what damages can and cannot be recovered. Job one right now, however, should be to get people back into their homes, their jobs, their hospitals and their lives. (One Austin hospital lost power and water.) Blame-throwing only gets in the way of human rescue.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called for an investigation of ERCOT, acknowledging that the power grid curators have been “anything but reliable” over the previous 48 hours. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather,” he added. “This is unacceptable.” Well, DUH! But they aren’t the only guilty parties.

Worst of all, the nightmare is far from over. The damages are widespread, and it will be some time before anyone can calculate the actual costs – and the avoidable costs – of this supposedly rare event. Will Texas shrug its shoulders and simply say, “This can’t possibly happen again.” Will Oregonians? Will the entire nation, which will suffer the effects of this loss of energy production and economic vitality in Texas?

Any investigation must begin with the fact that hardly anyone paid attention to warnings that this storm could have major impacts. Perhaps big winter storms need names, like hurricanes do, so that they stand out and can compete with partisan political bickering. Maybe we need a thorough review of all disaster preparedness, including spring floods, summer fires, and summer-autumn hurricanes and tropical storms. We certainly need better prediction, prevention and preparation – including thinning overgrown forests and clearing out dead, diseased and intensely flammable trees.

Will the American people get this kind of response from their elected officials – or from those charged with direct oversight of our land, water and infrastructure, and increasingly our lives and livelihoods? Or will we spend the next two, four or ten years bickering over trivial matters, like a modern Nero fiddling as our nation falls apart and becomes even easier pickings for Mother Nature and predator nations?

We’ve spent billions on wind turbines and solar panels that were useless when people most needed electricity, instead of on winterizing baseload power generation. We’ve spent billions on “climate crisis” models and fear-mongering – but can’t seem to get winter storm forecasts and warnings right. Too many are paying with their lives. When will we get it right?

Duggan Flanakin is director of policy research at the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (

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February 28, 2021 2:05 pm
Last edited 1 year ago by vuk
Robert W Turner
Reply to  Vuk
February 28, 2021 2:56 pm

So you think it has nothing to do with the moderate La Nina pattern?

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 1, 2021 2:57 am

Hi Robert, thanks for your question.
I’m not really a person to correctly ascertain effect of moderate or even strong laNina on this occasion.
However, if you look at the graph of the SSW attached to my comment, what I can categorically say is:
Moderate or even strong laNina event is a relatively slow process taking place over period of weeks if not months, while the SSW event took place over less than 2 days (red line).
It coincided with a violent explosive eruption of a volcano on a northern latitude with ash cloud thrown to the edge and possibly into stratosphere itself, while hot air plume punctured much higher into the stratosphere.
It takes 3-4 weeks under such conditions for the polar vortex to fall apart and as a consequence the polar jet stream lose its strength, stalling over the continental masses of N. America and Europe, taking Arctic air to mid and even lower latitudes.
These kind of events have taken place number of times in the last 20 or so years (see links in my comments of 18th Jan )
As far as I understand it, is the Texas’ energy supplies infrastructure failure that greatly exacerbated Texans winter woes at this occasion as it happened, lower than usual winter temperatures. 

Last edited 1 year ago by vuk
Robert W Turner
Reply to  Vuk
March 1, 2021 6:05 am

Thanks for the reply. I’ve read about the correlation between La Ninas and possible polar vortex splits but it would appear that it needs a trigger such as the SSW.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 1, 2021 6:23 am

Indeed, the cause of SSW is big known unknown as far as weatherman and climate scientists are concerned. I did my bit to help it become a known known, discussed it with Dr. J Curry on her blog some 5 or 6 years ago, posted number of times here on the WUWT over the years, but no one is paying attention, so hard cheese.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Vuk
March 2, 2021 11:20 am

Maybe more attention will be paid now.

Reply to  Robert W Turner
March 1, 2021 3:14 am

I would like to add, on the laNina question, it is likely that its appearance may be lot to do with current solar minimum.
Three months ago it appeared that this minimum was well and truly over, but not so, the February count is back where it started about two years ago.
Both, laNina and solar minimum may have made ‘Texas event’ worse than it would have been otherwise, but when polar jet stream moves away as it always does, scientists if really interested, may be able to calculate the effect of each, since laNina and solar minimum persist while polar vortex gets back to its full strength.

Last edited 1 year ago by vuk
Peta of Newark
Reply to  Vuk
February 28, 2021 3:22 pm

As you said Vuk, a Siberian volcano erupted.

It injected a (big) pulse of heat energy into a very cold fast moving yet very fragile structure – the laminar airflow of the vortex.
The heat energy allowed it to indulge in some turbulence, a bit flew off and hit Texas

Why do we need any more prediction?
As I was taught “O-Level Geography’ at school nearly 50 years ago..
“Deserts have highly variable and often extreme climates’
Texas is a desert.

Thus, if you wanna go live in one, you cannot blame anyone else if you don’t like the weather.
I was told that, at school at age 13 or 14.

What’s being suggested here is only ever going to fall foul of Jevon’s Paradox.
(The ‘efficiency’ of Texas Living will be increased and a disproportionate extra number of folks will go live there)
Measures will be put in place, folks will be lulled into security and many more folks will put them selves into the firing line.

As with any Human Engineered System, it will at some point fail.
Teachers don’t say that any more – they only now teach Climate Change..
viz: How to pass the buck. How to blame other people. How to make money out of them. How to be a winging pathetic little crybaby wimp. How to be selfish.

If you want to sort out the Texas disaster, ask yourself or better still hector & badger a scientist to answer this:

Why did the blast of cold air falling out of the Polar Vortex score such a Perfect Hit on the land mass of North America?
Why didn’t it come to earth a coupla thousand miles east, or west in the ocean(s) on either side?

What if the landmass of North America was somehow, a bit more ‘like the ocean’?
Would the cold air/weather have hit with such uncanny accuracy and severity?

And by being “More like the ocean”, simply make that = “Less like a desert”
If you’d had a proper school-teacher and were paying attention, you’d know, we would all know, already.

You know where I’m going..
i.e. The Corn Growers have a lot to answer for. They are creating the desert.

Maybe the answer is out there already.
Ask: Did the epic herds of buffalo that lived there have to endure ‘Polar Vortexes’……

Last edited 1 year ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 28, 2021 5:03 pm

Texas is a desert? Seriously?

Reply to  Kenw
March 1, 2021 6:29 am

Texas is no more a desert than I am the King of Queens, for Pete’s sake! Texas has plenty of GREEN places like the Big Wood and the Big Thicket, which are hardly desert areas.

And NO, the “corn growers” do NOT have a lot to answer for. They are NOT creating a desert, never have. Corn is a domesticated grain-producing grass like wheat, rye, barley and oats.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 28, 2021 8:44 pm

“Texas is a desert.”

Obviously you have never been to Texas.
Neither do you bother to do even a ten second check before you pontificate on matter of which you have mostly an abundance of ignorance.

As for your geography, O level, 50 years ago…
They seem to have neglected to mention the actual thing that distinguishes a desert: Dry weather.
Desert are arid climate zones.
There is no such thing as a climate zone called “extreme”.

Personally, I can think of few places in the US that do not have “highly variable” weather, as well as what is at times extreme weather.

They also seem to have left out the part about weather not being climate.

By the way jackass…they do not grow a particularly large amount of corn in Texas.
And yes the great plains have always had blizzards.
Every severe weather event hits somewhere.
What the hell makes you think there is anything uncanny about it hitting one place or one continent rather than another?
When bitter cold and storms move over ocean areas, no one cares.
Happens all the time.
For someone who spends so much time crying like a little girl who has wet her panties, it seems laughable for you to scold Texas.

Most of what you are writing here is incoherent blather.
Are you internetting drunk again?

Last edited 1 year ago by Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
March 3, 2021 6:50 pm

Old time Texas was more desert like… enhanced by Hollywood movies.

Reply to  UV Meter
March 4, 2021 4:22 am

When I was small and we were driving to visit family in NM I kept asking, in Texas, when we would get to the desert. Good thing that was in the old Ford station wagon and I was all the way in back so it did not iritate the parental units. 😉

Robert W Turner
February 28, 2021 2:58 pm

The insurance industry should give discounts for preparedness and smart building practices/upgrades. Instead it seems like the MO has been for the unprepared to be carried by those who are through higher rates for all.

Robert W Turner
Reply to  Robert W Turner
February 28, 2021 3:01 pm

Oh, and I’m sure the failure of the grid had nothing to do with —
In 2005, the state legislature amended the mandate to require that 5,880 megawatts, or less than 5% of electric consumption, come from renewable sources by 2015. Lawmakers also set a goal of 10,000 megawatts of renewable capacity by 2025.”

Nope, nothing to see there, surely all the blame lies with the power companies that are being told how they must generate electricity. Everyone knows politicians are blameless.

Richard (the cynical one)
Reply to  Robert W Turner
February 28, 2021 8:09 pm

As we slide inexorably toward global cooling, solar minima and the next round of planetary glaciation, let’s look back on our comfortably warm, fertile years fondly. They will be remembered in legend and orally transmitted epics.

Reply to  Richard (the cynical one)
February 28, 2021 9:37 pm

I nailed the current global cold Winter forecast in August 2020 below. The hard part is forecasting where the polar vortex is going next – but those who forecast a warm winter were delusional.

Regarding the warmist loons who claimed “Global Warming caused this extreme cold” – their lies are not even credible enough to be specious.

From previous posts on wattsup:
by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., June 15, 2019
This formula works reasonably well back to 1982, which is the limit of my data availability.
5. UAH LT Global Temperatures can be predicted ~4 months in the future with just two parameters:
UAHLT (+4 months) = 0.2*Nino34Anomaly + 0.15 – 5*SatoGlobalAerosolOpticalDepth (Figs. 5a and 5b)
6. The sequence is Nino34 Area SST warms, seawater evaporates, Tropical atmospheric humidity increases, Tropical atmospheric temperature warms, Global atmospheric temperature warms, atmospheric CO2 increases (Figs.6a and 6b).
I wrote in August 2020:
Check out NIno34 temperatures, again down to Minus 0.6C – winter will be cold.
comment image
Nino34 SST anom’s hit minimums of minus1.4C-1.3C in Oct2020 and Nov2020 – so global coldest temperatures (+4 months) should be Feb2021 and Mar2021.* Spring could also be late in many parts of the world.
[* Looking at the data – I’d have to go with Yankee Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil (predicts six more weeks of winter), not Canuck’s Wiarton Willie, Shubenacadie Sam and Fred La Marmotte (call early spring). The Rite of Spring, like science, is not a democracy – it’s not about consensus – it is what it is! Attaboy Phil! Hi Four!]
Check the beautiful La Nina in the equatorial Pacific Ocean – the blue stuff.
comment image

February 28, 2021 9:44 pm

This treatise is sent to Canadian and American politicians and the media – but most of them won’t understand it, because they have no scientific competence and have been utterly deceived – programmed for decades by false climate scares and green energy frauds.

We published in 2002 that there was NO catastrophic human-made global warming /climate change crisis, and green energy schemes were NOT green and produced little useful (dispatchable) energy. Dangerous global warming and climate change have NOT HAPPENED and green energy schemes have proved to be COSTLY, UNRELIABLE AND INEFFECTIVE.
Global warming is NOT a threat, but global cooling IS dangerous. In 2002 we predicted that global cooling would start circa 2020, based on low solar activity, and that prediction is increasingly supported by the evidence.
Politicians foolishly accepted very-scary global warming falsehoods and brewed the perfect storm, crippling our energy systems with costly and unreliable green energy schemes that utterly fail due to intermittency, at a time when we will need more reliable, dispatchable energy due to increased energy demand and imminent global cooling. The good people of Britain, Germany, California and Texas have all suffered and died due to green energy failures that were predictable and predicted.


The ability to predict is the best objective measure of scientific and technical competence. Climate doomsters have a perfect NEGATIVE predictive track record – every very-scary climate prediction, of the ~50 they have made since 1982, has FAILED TO HAPPEN.
The radical Greens have NO credibility, make that NEGATIVE credibility – their core competence is propaganda, the fabrication of false alarm.

Abolition Man
February 28, 2021 10:08 pm

Thanks for your informative and edifying posts! The La Niña looks like a knife pointed right at the heart of the Coral Triangle! Aaaack! We’re doomed!
Seriously though, do you have any books or compilations of your posts available? I’m an old fashioned guy who likes hard copies to read again and again; especially after China hits us with an EMP!

Reply to  Abolition Man
February 28, 2021 11:34 pm

Hi AM – here are some of my papers, mostly published here on Antony’s and Joe D’Aleo’s
Not included are my newspaper articles, such as my 1Sept2002 Calgary Herald prediction of global cooling, starting about 2020.

By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc.(Eng.), M.Eng., January 10, 2020
By Allan M.R. MacRae and Joseph D’Aleo, October 27, 2019
by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., October 1, 2019
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., September 1, 2019
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., July 19, 2019
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., July 4, 2019
by Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., June 15, 2019
By Tom Harris and Dr. Jay Lehr, May 24, 2019
By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., April 14, 2019
by Joseph d’Aleo and Allan MacRae, September 4, 2015
By Allan M.R. MacRae, January 2008
Allan M.R. MacRae, Energy & Environment, , vol. 16(1), pages 155-156, January 2005.
Published by APEGA in the PEGG, reprinted by other professional journals, The Globe and Mail and La Presse,
by Sallie Baliunas, Tim Patterson and Allan MacRae, November 2002

Last edited 1 year ago by Allan MacRae
March 1, 2021 9:20 am

Hi again AM – The full article for my 1Sept2002 Calgary Herald global cooling prediction is referenced below, with my 2013 update.
The ability to correctly predict is the most accurate measure of scientific and technical competence.
In 2002, co-authors Dr Sallie Baliunas, Astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian, Dr Tim Patterson, Paleoclimatologist, Carleton U, Ottawa and Allan MacRae, P.Eng. (now retired), McGill, Queens, U of Alberta, wrote:
1. “Climate science does not support the theory of catastrophic human-made global warming – the alleged warming crisis does not exist.”
2. “The ultimate agenda of pro-Kyoto advocates is to eliminate fossil fuels, but this would result in a catastrophic shortfall in global energy supply – the wasteful, inefficient energy solutions proposed by Kyoto advocates simply cannot replace fossil fuels.”
Published by APEGA in the PEGG, reprinted by other professional journals, The Globe and Mail and La Presse,
by Sallie Baliunas, Tim Patterson and Allan MacRae, November 2002
Allan MacRae published his global cooling prediction in the Calgary Herald on September 1, 2002, based on a conversation with Dr Tim Patterson:
3. “If [as we believe] solar activity is the main driver of surface temperature rather than CO2, we should begin the next cooling period by 2020 to 2030.”
by Allan MacRae, Calgary Herald, September 1, 2002 [full article]

MacRae refined his global cooling prediction in 2013, based on solar activity at the end of Solar Cycle 23 (SC23) and the start of SC24:
3a. “I suggest global cooling starts by 2020 or sooner. Bundle up.”

February 28, 2021 3:02 pm

May be another polar split will occure the next some days:

comment image

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Last edited 1 year ago by Krishna Gans
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 28, 2021 6:12 pm

Take a look at the temp drop over in Northern China. China overall had warmed up for several weeks. Now with a change in surface winds they have freezing temps in the north and cold temps across much of the nation. … earth :: a global map of wind, weather, and ocean conditions (

China refreeze 2 28 21.png
Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 1, 2021 4:31 am

According to Judah Cohen, a distended dumbel shaped PV means cold for North America, while a split in two PV means cold for Europe.

Reply to  Hatter Eggburn
March 1, 2021 6:43 am

A Cohen paper is the base of what Rahmstorf of PIK was telling us, AGW is the reason for PV split.
Look at this analysis from cold USA and cold Europe, reason was a tripol:

comment image

The certainely coming new split will cool down Europe an NE USA

comment image

Last edited 1 year ago by Krishna Gans
February 28, 2021 3:02 pm

This was NOAA’s February outlook, published on January 31, 2021…

Peter W
Reply to  David Middleton
February 28, 2021 4:14 pm

The Old Farmer’s 2021 Almanac prediction for Texas was 1-9 sunny, turning warm. 10-14 rainy periods, mild. 15-23 Sunny, mild.

Reply to  David Middleton
February 28, 2021 4:53 pm

Another great laugh is the CSFv2 forecast for March 2021 (last updated Feb 28). The first 10 days here in North Carolina is forecast below normal, so I guess it’s going to be really toasty after that.
comment image

February 28, 2021 3:16 pm

good lord … there is no way to “get out of dodge” with a polar vortex … its nothing like a hurricane …

Jan de Jong
Reply to  lackawaxen123
February 28, 2021 3:29 pm

but one could make it a bit more safe and comfortable in dodge …

John Tillman
Reply to  lackawaxen123
February 28, 2021 4:10 pm

Unless you fly to Cancun.

February 28, 2021 3:41 pm

Very informative. Thank you!

“Any investigation must begin with the fact that hardly anyone paid attention to warnings that this storm could have major impacts.’

I think the first question that should be asked is whether global warming models were used in determining how far the cold front would extend into southern states. History shows that to be possible and has happened.

There isn’t much incentive to plan for such events when science is telling you ‘it’s getting warmeer every day”, And although I’m not ignoring the trouble natural gas experienced, I’m more concerned with the choice of wind turbines, and future decisions of the “green new deal” based on “climate change” models.

February 28, 2021 4:07 pm

Apparently ERCOT was all over this, (according to government documents):

Dept of Energy Blocked Texas from Increasing Power Ahead of Killer Storm

A week before the storm, Texas begged for help and asked for Department of Energy to lift federal regulations barring state’s energy output.

However, an Emergency Order from the Biden administration’s Department of Energy shows Texas energy grid operator ERCOT was instructed to stay within green energy standards by purchasing energy from outside the state at a higher cost. This throttled power output throughout the state ahead of the catastrophic polar vortex.

Grid winterization unnecessary:

Now, new information has come to light that the decision not to legally require power plants to winterize was based on reports given to the Texas legislature suggesting global warming was happening to such an extent that winterizing the system was unnecessary.

Our politicians and government in action. (facepalm)

Last edited 1 year ago by Anon
Reply to  Anon
February 28, 2021 8:30 pm

Dept of Energy Blocked Texas from Increasing Power Ahead of Killer Storm”

Lies grow legs in WUWT

Reply to  bigoilbob
February 28, 2021 10:40 pm

“Lies grow legs in WUWT”


Says the big oily blob linking to PoilitFARCE

Sorry, slimy greasy blob, your LIES and DECEIT get nowhere. !!

They are LEGLESS. !

Reply to  fred250
March 1, 2021 4:57 am

Says the big oily blob linking to PoilitFARCE”

Complete the following:

“If you can’t dispute the message, diss the [fill in the blank].”

Dr. Deanster
Reply to  bigoilbob
March 1, 2021 5:48 pm

May I suggest you actually cite the actual document instead of Politifact. Your credibility will rise several points.

DOE 202(c) Emergency Order – ERCOT 02.14.2021.pdf (

To your credit, however, the Order does indeed allow for excess emissions between Feb 15-19 .. on an “as needed” basis for grid reliability under level 2 or 3 conditions. The problem I see in the whole charade is that ERCOT filed a submission on Feb 14th .. and the Order was signed at 8:00 PM Feb 14 ….. like .. 4-5 hours before the onset of freezageddon. This whole process should have been assessed on the 12th, when Abbott declared an emergency.

Bill Parsons
Reply to  Anon
February 28, 2021 10:41 pm

“…the decision not to legally require power plants to winterize was based on reports given to the Texas legislature suggesting global warming…”

The implication is that the government should have required winterization. I’ve been wondering how detailed government’s role in this should be. I envision a role where government mandates that energy producers must continue to produce during peak demands or are subject to penalties of repaying (at going rates) the energy they were responsible for. This would require the producers to upgrade and winterize if they want to capitalize on the optimal pricing during the cold / heat waves. Texas operators apparently needs more than just a financial incentive to stay up and running, since some producers had the option to take their generators offline to save them from the cold.

Your observation that the global warming forecasters carried the day is not realistic. The preponderance of forecasters had it right days ahead of time – that this Polar Vortex would be a lollapalooza that would claim much of continental U.S. It’s likely that the oil and gas producers figured ways to capitalize on this due to poor oversight by PUC, ERCOT and Governor Abbott. One of the interviewees in David Middleton’s post four days ago had interesting comments that suggested producers took generators offline to carry off a “short squeeze”, which I assume means – drive up the price, then come online and make a killing. See Ed Hirs comments in video post “Society of Petroleum Engineers: The Texas Power Failure — What Went Wrong and Why?”

I assumed this incident in Texas was all about a mechanical outage due to negligence of people not hardening their wells, generators and delivery systems. That interview changed my mind. It seems there was more going on “right out of the Enron playbook”, according to Hirs.

February 28, 2021 4:08 pm

Sadly, climate hysteria and MSM alleged Russian activities, has everyone looking the wrong way. It’s the Cold and the Chinese that are the threat.

February 28, 2021 4:41 pm

A good song about meteorology to cheer things up:

February 28, 2021 4:49 pm

That’s politics for ya. Destructive, disastrous, deadly.

February 28, 2021 6:16 pm

The big question is this a one off winter, or will this turn into the first of a series of such winters over the next decade or longer?

February 28, 2021 6:21 pm

Such an event happens about six times per decade, NOAA says.

So, they can be expected roughly every 2 years or less, but they don’t have a plan to deal with them? Oh, and we used to call them “cold fronts” but I guess “polar vortex” has that boiling-water-will-flash-freeze-y sound.

Tom Abbott
February 28, 2021 6:41 pm

The atmospheric circulation in the arctic resembles the circulation on Saturn’s pole.

Robert of Texas
February 28, 2021 9:36 pm

Actually many normal everyday Texans took actions to prepare their homes for the on-coming Arctic blast – have emergency water in the house, cover outside taps with extra layers of insulation and coverings, stockpile some food, check propane bottles, bring in anything that might be frozen, etc. I even had a stockpile of fire wood I had not touched in ten years and eventually gave to those without power when my home did not lose power.

Some people will never pay attention. I felt the warnings we had were adequate.

What you can’t really prepare for is a completely incompetent reaction by government appointed officials. I keep reminding people, we got lucky, this could have been much, much worse. There is just no excuse for the people whose jobs it is to keep power on to be so utterly unprepared and incompetent.

Now various interests are busy disguising the issues and blaming fossil fuels – it defies logic but they are really good at confusing people with partial facts and cherry picked data. They want to add intermittent power…to fix the problem that we have too much intermittent power on our grid. You can’t make this stuff up.

They keep talking about how natural gas plants didn’t deliver because the gas lines, well-heads, or valves stuck close…they are not mentioning the fact the ERCOT ordered many natural gas plants offline before the crisis because their computer detected too much excess capacity available.

There is going to be an investigation and I think the results have already been determined by special interest groups. They will stretch this out until people forget it ever happened or why. And the next time we get an arctic blast it may be much. much worse. Then the game restarts.

But I will continue to harden my home against these events. Power grid or not, no one is dying of hypothermia in my home.

Abolition Man
Reply to  Robert of Texas
February 28, 2021 10:20 pm

Well done, sir!
I think a lot of people are coming to the realization that the survivalists weren’t completely crazy! Sadly, I think you are right about the investigation and any mitigating actions taken.
Like the inept response to the dempanic, the pols and special interests will try to play out the clock and obfuscate their responsibility for the damage and deaths they brought about!

Reply to  Robert of Texas
March 1, 2021 3:53 am

Hi Robert,
I lived in Houston for almost one year and have friends there – it is frustrating to see what happened in the recent cold snap, especially since IT WAS FORESEEABLE AND FORESEEN.
I say the deaths and costly damage were ~all avoidable and unnecessary – CAUSED BY IDIOT GREEN ENERGY POLICIES THAT DO NOTHING BUT HARM.

In 2013: This open letter was written in 2013, after Britain invested in too much wind power, but before Texans “blew their brains out”. SSDD.

Details at:
I nailed the current global cold Winter forecast in August 2020. The hard part is forecasting where the polar vortex is going next – but those who forecast a warm winter were delusional.
Regarding the warmist loons who claimed “Global Warming caused this extreme cold” – their lies are not even credible enough to be specious.
Details at:
A few comments from the frozen North that may prove helpful:
As soon as freezing hits and your home heating system fails, you have to drain all your pipes and put anti-freeze in your toilets and drain traps.
You are wise to have a backup electrical generator – I predict huge sales – Natural Gas and Propane dual-fueled looks good to me.
Given the direction of the climate (I say global cooling starting circa 2018-2019) and continued leftist destruction of the electric grid, these generator should become standard fare in all homes and businesses.
A further fallback is a wood-burning stove – my dad installed one after the big power failure in Quebec and Ontario in Jan1998 and hosted the entire community – cooking and sleeping in their rec room.

March 1, 2021 3:17 pm

Good tips. We dont have polar blasts here but power supply has had various issues over the years, even a 5 min cut in a local area can cause havoc, a few hours even more so. Many larger businesses got a decent generator , like supermarkets malls etc.

March 1, 2021 4:25 am

The planning part is easy, have a good wood burner and a large stock of firewood, food stored and a generator/fuel to keep refrigeration/freezer and some lighting going. You are now prepared.

March 1, 2021 5:54 am

Some of these forecasts, and the attendant reasoning, came from unlikely sources. None the less and I implore you to excuse my judgmental comment about these forecasts, but very well done! There should be much learning from this.

March 1, 2021 6:14 am

Great article. Thanks.
As an example of planning, I live in central Florida. A three day freeze to less than 28oF can raise all sort of havoc. When I was a kid, people burned large piles of tires and fired grove heaters to avoid loses to the then-critical citrus industry. Lots of BLACK smoke.
As a young parent I learned to heap straw around my pipes and critical plants after the year my submergible pump well-head froze froze up.
Note to the wise: Plan ahead.

March 1, 2021 6:22 am

I love ignorant exaggeration, as in this example: On February 3, Jennifer Gray at CNN announced, “It’s about to get so cold that boiling water will flash freeze, frostbite could occur within 30 minutes, and it will become a shock to the system for even those who are used to the toughest winters.”

Now, since boiling water is well above the freeze zone, I truly do want to know where this babbling bimp gets her info on what it takes to make boiling water “flash freeze”.
Frostbite in 30 minutes? Really? I do want to know what planet she’s living on, too.

Aside from that, I kept in touch with family peeps down in Dallas. Power was either off for prolonged periods or intermittent, but they came out of it with no broken pipes in the household.

Up here in my kingdom, it was just a normal late winter snowfall and really cold temps and we’re used to that, although the city to the south of me had issues with slick roads and considerable inconveniences, but that’s the upper Midwest for you. And now all that slop is melting away and I can get my back door open again.

Reply to  Sara
March 1, 2021 7:46 am

I love ignorant exaggeration, as in this example: On February 3, Jennifer Gray at CNN announced, “It’s about to get so cold that boiling water will flash freeze, frostbite could occur within 30 minutes, and it will become a shock to the system for even those who are used to the toughest winters.”
Now, since boiling water is well above the freeze zone, I truly do want to know where this babbling bimp gets her info on what it takes to make boiling water “flash freeze”.
Frostbite in 30 minutes? Really? I do want to know what planet she’s living on, too.

This way it isn’t an exaggeration:

Here’s How Boiling Water Can Turn Into Ice

It’s so cold in parts of the United States that a cup of boiling water tossed into the air can crystalize into ice and snow before it hits the ground.
Videos of such strikingly weird phenomena in Minnesota, Vermont, New Jersey, and elsewhere are making the rounds as subzero temperatures, high winds, and snow blasts across the country.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
March 1, 2021 3:14 pm

Isnt that the wind chill effect as well.
The air is not quite cold enough to freeze water immediately, which happens at about minus-42 degrees, Terry said.
Because its boiling it will sort of ‘evaporate’ quickly or form a condensation cloud. But the core idea is correct if the temp is low enough

Maureen from Regina
March 1, 2021 7:14 am

Growing up in Edmonton during the 1960s, January was always cold – frigid cold. As a kid you would wake up to Mum reminding you that the temps were such that exposed skin would freeze in 5 minutes or 2 minutes or whatever – so dress warmly (actual temperatures have little meaning for children, but the fear of freezing something off your face was real).
The cold was just cold – things you expected in a northern Alberta city – it was never referred to as the Polar Vortex.

But clearly the Polar Vortex is nothing new but just gets more attention now

When I moved into my house in Regina, SK in Feb. 1992, the elderly couple next door were in Texas where they had spent every winter for the last 10-15 years. I was told they would not be back until late April but were a lovely couple. So I was surprised when they showed up in late March – Wally mentioned that it was freezing in Texas and had been for most of the winter and even with the propone heating in their trailer it was too cold for them. The attraction of a warm house in Regina heated by natural gas was more attractive so they bugged out earlier than planned.

Reply to  Maureen from Regina
March 1, 2021 7:23 am

As I keep pointing out there is no “climate emergency”, all there is is the need for the 24/7 news idiots to fill up empty air time and for leftist idiots to terrify people who are poorly educated and totally ignorant of history more than 2 years in the past.

Steve Z
March 1, 2021 10:05 am

I was sent to Minnesota on business during the middle of the polar vortex–night-time temperatures of 20 below zero (F), but the lights and heat stayed on indoors throughout.

Of course, such weather is routine in Minnesota, and the power companies there prepare for it.

The problem in Texas was lack of winterization of all of their power systems (not just windmills). Just because snowstorms are rare along the Gulf Coast doesn’t mean they never happen. Any power supplier in Texas that has not winterized should do so immediately. Although another snowstorm might not come for five or ten years, if there is one, the power companies can keep the lights on, and they can always turn off the winterization during the long, hot, Texas summer.

I was also living in Texas during a rare snowstorm in 1983, and I was part of a car pool. As the only “Yankee” in the car pool, I was asked to drive that morning, with about 3 inches of snow and dozens of pickup trucks spun out in ditches alongside the highway. Some of my carpool-mates were wondering why I was only driving at 30 mph in the right lane of the freeway (which had the least snow accumulation), and I explained to them that I wanted to stay on the road and avoid the ditches !

Sometimes it takes a major snowstorm to convince Southerners about the dangers of winter…

Tombstone Gabby
March 1, 2021 12:02 pm

Back in the days when I read paperback westerns I came across a description of a “blue norther”. Nasty. It was just part of a story. So I just searched on “Blue Norther”.

The National Weather Service has a description of the November 11, 1911 event at

It’s a short read, but scary. What has happened in the past can and will happen again.

Gerald Hanner
March 1, 2021 8:53 pm

To claim that temperatures below freezing in Hawaii (the Big Island, that is) is nothing new. Snow at the tops of Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Haleakela is common in February.

March 2, 2021 8:13 am

ren says:

January 25, 2021 at 1:51 AM

The extremely powerful SSW took place in 2009, the year of the Sun’s extremely low magnetic activity. The current SSW also takes place during the period of very low magnetic activity of the Sun. The current SSW will cause severe weather anomalies in the Northern Hemisphere because, like in 2009, it occurred in the middle of winter.

“The accelerated ascent in the tropics and descent at high latitudes first occurs in the upper stratosphere and then propagates downward to the lower stratosphere. This downward propagation takes over 1 month from the potential temperature level of 1000 to 400 K.”

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March 2, 2021 8:24 am

ren says:

January 26, 2021 at 2:35 PM

Polar vortex at the top of the stratosphere again strengthens. The anomalies have shifted to the lower atmosphere.

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It could be a long and hard winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

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