How Texans Stayed Warm During February's Week of Icy Temps
Instead of hearts ablaze, Valentine’s Day—and the week that followed—brought ice cold weather to Texas this year. During that week, the Lone Star State was plunged into an arctic-like chill with snow, ice, wind, and massive blackouts resulting in millions of Texans losing power. The week began with historically frosty weather. Dallas saw temperatures as low as -1 degrees (the coldest temperature recorded since 1989). Across the border in Oklahoma City, residents suffered through a -6 chill with a windchill of -29.
In the days that followed, there were more power outages, along with vehicle crashes on icy roads and boil-water notices in numerous counties. Texans began stockpiling food leading to barren shelves reminiscent of the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. By Saturday, President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration to send federal aid to the state.
Fortunately, Texas has begun to thaw out. Throughout this unprecedented chill, Lone Star residents displayed characteristic toughness and ingenuity to stay warm. The popular subreddit r/preppers, a community of 222k online members, have since discussed how they relied on drums of water and canned food to make it through. Others in Texas used similarly creative solutions:
Those with fireplaces used them for more than just staying warm—many also cooked over open flames or used their fireplaces to melt snow. Some Texans without fireplaces cooked over candles, turning air fryer baskets into makeshift stoves. And of course, this being Texas, grillmasters braved their icy backyards to barbecue.
With sweeping power outages, finding lighting became a challenge for many. Those same candles that might have otherwise been a romantic touch for Valentine’s Day came in handy here, as did headlamps. Others used flashlights.
The novelty of seeing snow in below freezing temperatures didn’t last long for Texans not used to braving the cold. Staying warm was essential during the chill. Some gathered around fireplaces, either in hearths or backyards, loaded up with blankets, warm clothing, and huddling together with pets. To insulate their homes, some tacked up foam sheets to windows.
One pioneer-inspired solution that popped up often was the use of candles and clay pots to create a makeshift heater. This works by stacking a terra cotta plot (the kind one might use for planting a cactus) on candles.
Outdoorsy Texans pitched tents in their living rooms for extra warmth, burned books, scavenged wood to burn, or even did jumping jacks to keep their body temperatures up.
A large number of people without power turned to their cars for a solution, some spending the night in their cars with the heaters running, or just working from them during the day in order to stay warm and charge devices. However, officials across the state warned of the risk of spending a night in the car. In Houston and Fort Worth, police reported a number of carbon monoxide poisoning incidents as a result of this.
Many Texans without power were fortunate enough to be able to temporarily relocate and stay with friends and family who still had the lights on. This was difficult, due to the icy road conditions. For those who weren’t able to travel, hotels with power (especially reliable backup generators) became a way out of the cold. As a last ditch solution, many turned to shelters—both official and makeshift. One Texas furniture store, for example, opened its doors to those in need.
Reaching out to others via phone, email, or social media helped during this unexpected cold snap. However, internet outages made this a challenge. To stay connected, many Texans who lost internet turned to cellular hotspots or satellite internet.
Self Storage Tips for Cold Weather
While icy events like this are uncommon and unexpected in places like Texas, this weather event was a reminder for many of the importance of being prepared. Even during an ordinary winter in Texas, cold days and nights can happen. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to think like the folks in r/preppers and have bottled water, non-perishable food items, warm clothing, firewood, flashlights, candles, batteries, and other essential items ready.
When using self storage in the winter, it’s also key to prepare your belongings for the potential of cold weather. During the winter months, avoid storing items that are sensitive to freezing, such as liquids and electronics. Wrap sensitive items in moving blankets, and avoid storing boxes directly on the ground (a wooden pallet can help with this). If storing a vehicle, such as a car, boat, or RV, winterize it first. Here are some additional winter storage tips if you need them. In the meantime, stay safe and stay warm.