I grew up in Colorado. One of my first driving experiences was crossing Wolf Creek Pass in the family station wagon with said family packed in around me. Did I mention that I did this on the tail end of winter? Ice and snow everywhere, jackknifed big rigs all around me, and a lot of support coming from the back seats: "You know, they let you drive a little closer to that yellow line in the middle..." If anyone could see the yellow line in the middle, they would have been one up on me, but I white-knuckled us over the back of the Rocky Mountains to eventual safety. Ever since, slick roads have been less of a problem for me.
Many years later, on a trip to Miami to see the Colorado Buffaloes take on the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, a freak cold snap descended on the southeast United States. There were freezing temperatures. Not metaphorically freezing. Scientifically below thirty-two degrees Fahrenheit freezing. Highway traffic came to a standstill, including the Sunshine State of Florida, where ice is generally something you find in your drink, not on the roads. People were freezing in their homes, built as they were without insulation from the cold outside. In Miami, the temperature on game day was a "frigid" fifty-eight degrees. Returning back to the house where my father and I were staying from a run, I went for a quick swim. Bracing, to be sure, but not scientifically freezing.
It was scientifically freezing in Texas this past week. Driving became treacherous, primarily due to the lack of experience folks in the Lone Star State have with navigating highways with frozen anything on them. While the homes were built for slightly more inclement weather than their Florida counterparts, many suffered because of a loss of heat, electric and natural gas. Power outages continued for days as Texans suffered through an Arctic Blast that froze the midsection of the United States. A few states north of this havoc in Colorado, my mother was enjoying the comfort and safety of her newly installed windows. That and the dependable power grid the state in which she lives maintains.
The Texas power utilities failed to properly prepare their generators and regulators since the last tough winter back in 2011. Or the fabled Super Bowl Blackout of 1989. As temperatures dipped into the teens, officials from those Texas utilities scrambled to find someone or something to blame. Other than themselves. They pointed fingers at wind turbines and solar panels. Perhaps not surprisingly, reports suggested that the biggest area of failure came from natural gas facilities, undercutting many politicians' insistence that gas and oil were the solution to the problem. Add to this the deregulation for which so many Republicans have been mad for, allowing a range in energy prices from a low of twenty-two dollars per megawatt hour when demand was less severe to nine thousand dollars. To no power at all.
Everything's bigger in Texas. Even the failures.