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Texas' dangerous week in the dark is a wake-up call for the country's infrastructure

February 20, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 18.9%. 1 min read.

As power outages across Texas, Louisiana and other states leave millions struggling to stay warm in record-breaking cold, experts say there are hard lessons to be learned about the dire need to prepare the country's infrastructure to handle the curve balls climate change is likely to throw at us.

(CNN)When winter storms bring extreme cold, snow and ice as far south as Texas and Louisiana, power outages from downed lines are expected.

However, scientists are confident that global warming is likely to bring new threats to critical infrastructure -- from more intense and frequent heat waves to more damaging storms -- to places that have rarely experienced them.

That appears to be what happened this week, albeit a very extreme version, said Tim Woollings, a professor of climate science at the University of Oxford, whose research has focused on changes to the jet stream over time.

There is, however, abundant evidence that climate change is increasing the threats of a variety of extreme events, which will stress critical systems in ways they have not been tested before.

Flooding, heat, wildfires and drought are just some of the extreme weather events that will pose an increased risk of disruption the more humans heat the planet, according to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, the US government's most recent comprehensive look at the effects of climate change.

"The impact the winter weather is having on the infrastructure grid and business interruption in the state of Texas is comparable to what has been seen historically to hurricane landfalls in the state," Bowen said.

"(This extreme cold) was outside the range of conditions that was planned for, or was considered to be so infrequent that it wasn't worth the additional cost to weatherize different kinds of infrastructure and buildings," said Jenkins.

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