LOOK BACK: It’s been 2 years since Texas’ devastating winter storm of February 2021

Winter storm blanketed parts of Texas in several inches of snow, crippled the Texas power grid

It’s an event that those of us around Texas will likely remember for the rest of our lives: The Big Freeze of February 2021.

And even though the memory of the winter storm is still very fresh in our minds, it’s important to remember just how unprecedented this event was for San Antonio and Texas as a whole.

RECORDS ON RECORDS ON RECORDS

The state-wide cold and snow in February 2021 were ones for the record books:

  • Winter Storm Warnings statewide: For the first time, according to the National Weather Service, EVERY county in the state was under a Winter Storm Warning by Sunday, Feb. 14.
This is the first time, according to the National Weather Service, that every county in the state was under a Winter Storm Warning. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)
  • -8 degrees wind chill: The Austin/San Antonio National Weather Service issued its first-ever Wind Chill Warning on Feb. 15. On the morning of Feb. 15, San Antonio achieved its second coldest wind chill since records have been kept on this statistic (1947). According to the records, San Antonio saw a wind chill of -12 degrees in 1949. Overall, San Antonio has only seen sub-zero wind chills eight times since 1947.
  • 107.5 hours at or below 33 degrees: Starting on Feb. 12 and continuing through early Feb. 17, San Antonio saw below-freezing temperatures. Amazingly, this came up 90 minutes short of the record of 109 hours below 33 degrees in January 1951. This is by far the latest in a season that San Antonio has had such a stretch.
  • 4 separate calendar days with measurable snow: This is the first time in San Antonio’s history that we had received snow on four separate calendar days in one winter season: Jan. 10 (0.2″), Feb. 14 (1.2″), Feb. 15 (2.5″), and Feb. 18 (2.5″). It should be noted that in 1951 we received 0.4″ on Jan. 29, a trace on Jan. 30, 0.5″ on Jan. 31, and 0.4″ on Feb. 14.
  • 3rd snowiest winter of all time: The winter of 2020-2021 and this winter totaled up to 6.4″ of snow — the 3rd snowiest ever. In the winter of 1984-1985, we received 15.9″. In 1925-1926, San Antonio saw 7.4″
Courtesy: National Weather Service, Austin/San Antonio
  • 9-degree low temperature: On the morning of Feb. 15, San Antonio International Airport dipped to 9 degrees, which ties for the 8th coldest temperature of all time. This occurred as the snow was exiting the region and the skies were clearing.
  • 5 record lows in one week: San Antonio set record lows on Feb. 14, 15, 16, 19, and 20.
San Antonio saw record lows 5 out of 7 days during a stretch from February 14th through February 20th. (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)
  • 11.2 inches of snow in Del Rio, most of all time: On Feb. 18, a second round of snow brought 11.2 inches to Del Rio. This is the largest all-time snowfall, beating the previous record of 8.7 inches on Jan. 12 and 13 of 1985.
  • Two ice events and two snow events: There’s no record for this stat, but San Antonio saw essentially four separate winter weather events over the course of a week: The first round of freezing rain was reported in Hill Country on Feb. 11. Freezing drizzle fell for much on the area on Feb. 14, followed by snow late on the 14 and into the 15. Another round of freezing rain fell on the morning of Feb. 17, with a final snowfall on Feb. 18. You can bet this won’t happen again anytime soon.
  • 7th coldest February of all time: February 2021 ranks as the 7th coldest since records have been kept (1885), thanks to the arctic outbreak. That’s with several days in the 70s and one in the 80s before and after the bitter-cold stretch.
Coldest Februarys for San Antonio, since records have been kept (1885) (Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

ERCOT Power Grid Failure

This is the part that made the winter storm of February 2021 truly devastating.

While we still would have seen car crashes and loss of agriculture from the cold, ice, and snow, ERCOT’s failure to keep the lights on created panic and can even be attributed to deaths due to hyperthermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, and lack of access to medical equipment.

‘Power Grid Failure: What Went Wrong,’ the collaboration between KSAT Explains and KSAT Investigates, examines the February storm and its aftermath. You can watch the special in the video player above on-demand.

REMEMBER: Pics from February 2021

Despite the catastrophic impacts of the power grid failure, the snow and ice around San Antonio made for a “winter wonderland.” Here are some stunning pictures from those days two years ago:

The Majestic Theatre in San Antonio. (KSAT 12)
(Images of the snow across the San Antonio area during February.) (KSAT)
An aerial view of San Antonio's Northeast Side covered in snow in February 2021 submitted by KSAT Connect user jwill03. (KSAT)
Engineer sweeping the snow out of satellite dish to improved reception. If the dish is full of snow, the signal degrades and is not usable. (KSAT 12)
A Park Policeman patrols along the River Walk as snow falls, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in San Antonio. Snow, ice and sub-freezing weather continue to wreak havoc on the state's power grid and utilities. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
2-year-old Wesley walks in the snow during the winter storm in San Antonio. (KSAT)
Children play with a sled as snow begins to accumulate, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, in San Antonio. Snow, ice and sub-freezing weather continue to wreak havoc on the state's power grid and utilities. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Two people play in the snow in San Antonio, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. Snow and ice blanketed large swaths of the U.S. on Sunday, prompting canceled flights, making driving perilous and reaching into areas as far south as Texas’ Gulf Coast, where snow and sleet were expected overnight. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Mission San Juan (KSAT 12)
Snow day in San Antonio during February winter storm 2021. (KSAT 12)
Espada Park (KSAT 12)
Arneson River Theatre covered in snow in February 2021. (KSAT 12)

If you’d like to submit your pictures from the February 2021 winter storm, you can do so on our KSAT Connect page.


About the Authors:

Sarah Spivey is a San Antonio native who grew up watching KSAT. She has been a proud member of the KSAT Weather Authority Team since 2017. Sarah is a Clark High School and Texas A&M University graduate. She previously worked at KTEN News. When Sarah is not busy forecasting, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and cat, and playing music.

Justin Horne is a meteorologist and reporter for KSAT 12 News. When severe weather rolls through, Justin will hop in the KSAT 12 Storm Chaser to safely bring you the latest weather conditions from across South Texas. On top of delivering an accurate forecast, Justin often reports on one of his favorite topics: Texas history.