Texas’ Big Freeze in 2021 through the lens of meteorologists — Whatever the Weather video podcast

Join KSAT meteorologists Kaiti Blake and Sarah Spivey as they reflect on the historical significance of the 2021 weather event

Editor’s note: Watch the latest episode of Whatever the Weather video podcast above or wherever you listen to podcasts. Get notified when new episodes publish each month by signing up for the free newsletter here.

The Big Freeze. The Arctic Blast. The Winter Storm. Whatever you call it, there’s no doubt you remember the cold, wintry weather that crippled San Antonio and Texas in February 2021. In the newest episode of the Whatever the Weather podcast, KSAT meteorologists Kaiti Blake and Sarah Spivey look back at the historic event as the anniversary approaches. Here’s a preview of what’s covered in the episode:

1. The Timeline

KSAT meteorologists had an understanding a week before the historic storm that we were going to get some kind of cold, wintry precipitation around Valentine’s Day. However, it wasn’t until Thursday, Feb. 11, that we had a clear understanding that South Central Texas would spend several days below freezing.

After the first round of snow fell around San Antonio on Sunday night, CPS Energy started issuing “rolling blackouts” by early Monday morning. Later, all Texans would discover that the ERCOT power grid failed.

After a final round of snowfall on Thursday, Feb. 18, San Antonio finally started thawing out Friday with sunshine and a high in the 40s. Find a full timeline here.

2. Temperatures

San Antonio first dipped below freezing on Friday night, Feb. 12. The temperature wouldn’t get above freezing until Wednesday, Feb. 17, so in total, we spent 107.5 hours below freezing during the event. The coldest air temperature recorded in San Antonio was 9 degrees on Monday, Feb. 15. That was one of five record low temperatures set during the Big Freeze.

What’s more, the wind chill in San Antonio got as low as -8 degrees at one point -- the second coldest wind chill on record for the city.

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.)

3. Snowfall

During the winter weather event, there were four days in which San Antonio received measurable snowfall at the airport -- a first for the city! Regardless, in terms of total snowfall, the winter of 2021 wound up being the third-snowiest winter since records have been kept. See photos here.

Courtesy: National Weather Service, Austin/San Antonio

4. Damage

It’s believed that the Winter Storm resulted in at least 210 deaths across Texas, according to a study by the University of Houston. The same study also states that most fatalities could be attributed to hypothermia, vehicle crashes, carbon monoxide poisoning and chronic medical conditions complicated by the weather.

On top of the loss of human life, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service reports that there was nearly $608 million in agriculture losses, including livestock and crops.

RELATED: February’s arctic blast in San Antonio has few historical comparisons


About the podcast

Whatever the weather, Meteorologists Kaiti Blake and Sarah Spivey have it covered on the local news – for about three minutes, in between commercial breaks.

Rarely, though, do they have time to explain weather phenomena in depth. On “Whatever the Weather,” Kaiti and Sarah dig deeper and tell you all you want to know about Mother Nature – from tornadoes, to freezing rain, to climate change. They also chat about what it’s like to be broadcast meteorologists and the challenges they sometimes face in day-to-day TV life.

So put on your nerdiest glasses, pop on your best headphones, and enjoy...Whatever the Weather!


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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 KETN News. When Sarah is not busy forecasting, she enjoys hanging out with her husband and cat, and playing music.

Kaiti Blake is a child weather-geek-turned-meteorologist. A member of the KSAT Weather Authority, Kaiti is a co-host of the Whatever the Weather video podcast. After graduating from Texas Tech University, Kaiti worked at WJTV 12 in Jackson, Mississippi and KTAB in Abilene.