Experts offer advice on possibility of another Texas freeze

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer, Video by Kaity Kempf | Broadcast Reporter

Almost a year since Winter Storm Uri historically froze the state of Texas, Baylor prepares for the case of another cold weather pattern.

George Nunez, director of emergency management at Baylor, said the university will continue to take steps of preparedness and asks students to do the same in case of another freeze.

“This is always the case of any type of emergency situation: preparedness is key, so that is the one big takeaway regardless if you are living on campus or off campus,” Nunez said. “We always encourage people to maintain situational awareness and keep informed as to what is going on, whether it’s winter or it’s summer.”

Jennifer Dunn, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service Fort Worth, said the expectation for this winter is generally above normal temperatures, although the state is still able to get arctic air.

“As we look forward to the rest of the winter, arrival or deliveries of cold arctic air are possible, but they typically do not last as long as they did in February 2021,” Dunn said. “So we do need to be prepared for that and make sure we’re taking preparedness actions now and being aware so that when these deliveries of cold air are expected, we are hopefully ready for them.”

The Red Cross offers precautions one can take in case of a winter storm, including preventative steps to keep pipes from freezing, tips on protecting pets from the cold and information regarding hypothermia and frostbite.

“​​Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed by exposure to cold, vehicle accidents on wintry roads, and fires caused by the improper use of heaters. Prepare now so you can stay safe during blizzards and other winter storms,” the Red Cross Winter Storm Preparedness & Blizzard Safety webpage said.

Nunez said the university has gone through several measures to ensure it is well-stocked and well-prepared for a winter storm in all aspects.

“The university plans and exercises and then drills as to various scenarios,” Nunez said. “We get information directly from the National Weather Service, so it’s not us guessing what the weather would be, but it’s us getting information from the experts.”

According to Dunn, the National Weather Service can prepare and expect cold air prior to the arrival of such harsh weather pattern changes.

“We usually can see a possible event like this a few days out in advance, and last February, it was a fairly significant event that we were actually able to see about a week in advance,” Dunn said. “The other part that was unique about the winter event that made it seem so crazy was the lingering impacts and duration of the cold.”

According to the Texas Tribune, 246 people died in Winter Storm Uri across 77 counties within the state. Additionally, the freeze left enduring economic and property destruction throughout Texas.

Nunez said Baylor will hold its monthly emergency weather siren and email test on Feb. 1, allowing students to prepare for what an emergency may look like in the community.

“We will be testing the university’s emergency communication systems, and it’s not just us but also the city and county will also test their systems, as they do on a monthly basis,” Nunez said.