Some are calling the 2021 winter storm a “once-in-a-generation” event. Others are calling it “Uri.”
Yes, the 2021 winter storm has a name, thanks to The Weather Channel which, according to The Tribune’s news partner, Patch.com, has been ignoring the meteorological rule book for the last nine years by declaring its own list of 2020-21 winter storm names.
The winter storm that hit Lake Houston right after Valentine’s Day met the strict National Weather Service criteria for winter storm warnings, blizzard warnings and ice storm warnings and earned The Weather Channel’s designation as Winter Storm Uri.
Lake Houston residents could think of other names to call Uri since the storm on Sunday night, Feb. 15, dropped anywhere from 1 to 5.5 inches of the powdery stuff, depending on where you live in the Greater Houston area. Lake Houston saw only a little more than an inch of the white stuff while northern cities like Conroe, Cleveland and Livingston reported five inches or more.
The concern in Lake Houston was not snow but rather ice on the road, power outages and frozen water pipes.
H-E-B and Kroger both adjusted their hours, for the safety of their customers and their associates. Kroger stores closed at 4 p.m. on Feb. 15, reopening at 9 a.m. the next day, advising customers to view their website for updates. H-E-B adjusted its hours for a later opening and early closing and warning customers that store hours could be adjusted at any time according to local conditions.
Several H-E-B and Kroger stores were closed because of lack of power. Fortunately, Lake Houston did not suffer through the major power outages encountered by residents and businesses in northwest Harris and eastern Montgomery counties and the major grocery stores were able to stay open with reduced hours.
“For the most part, it has been quiet in Kingwood as everyone has paid attention to advice from media and elected officials and have stayed off the roads,” Houston Mayor Pro Tem Dave Martin told The Tribune. “No reports of any damage to infrastructure. I encourage everyone to stay home, conserve power when possible and staff off the roads.”
Humble ISD and Lone Star College both canceled online classes because of the storm and the number of power outages – rolling and otherwise – plaguing Lake Houston. The Lake Houston Family YMCA joined its sister “Ys” in closing
and cancelling classes until midday on Thursday.
Lake Houston’s medical centers remained open to serve the community as well.
“Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital has been fortunate to continue to have power throughout this unprecedented winter storm,” said Justin Kendrick, senior vice-president, and chief executive office of Memorial Hermann Northeast Hospital. “We, along with all Memorial Hermann campuses, are operating our disaster preparedness plans which includes having our nurses and staff shelter in place so that we can keep them safely off the roads. This also gives us the ability to continue to provide the community with high quality care as we continue to also battle COVID-19.”
Besides encouraging residents to stay off the roads, city utility officials asked residents not to drip their faucets, a time-honored ritual to keep pipes from bursting. Too many flowing water taps reduces water pressure to the point that the city’s water system would lose pressure and force residents to boil water and firefighters would find it difficult to get water pressure from hydrants during emergencies.
Snow is rare in Lake Houston, but the National Weather Service calculates that Houston has recorded snow 94 times since 1881 with the largest snowfall ever on Valentine’s Day, 1895, when 20 inches fell, according to Wikipedia. The last recorded time that the temperature fell below freezing was in January 2018 when the recorded temperature was 19.
In case you are wondering, The Weather Channel has prepared a whole list of names and Winter Storm 22, if there is one, will be named Viola.