Before and after: Satellite captures Texas power outage from space

Texas
Satellite captures Texas power outages (NOAA Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Stunning images from above Earth show the effect of power outages across Texas this week, which at one point left more than 4 million people without power.

In the wake of multiple rounds of winter storms, demand for energy increased in Texas. The company that manages the power grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, was forced to shed some of the load, which caused blackouts after ERCOT ordered utility companies to cut power usage.

Some areas were supposed to begin rolling those blackouts between customers, but instead the need was so high that local utility companies couldn’t complete that process while still keeping essential customers like hospitals online.

Satellite image of Texas Jan. 31, 2021 (NOAA Photo)Satellite image of Texas Feb. 16, 2021 (NOAA Photo)

The NOAA-20 satellite’s images show bright city lights across Texas before the storm on Jan. 31 and the significantly dimmer image during the storm and outages on Feb. 16.

That satellite and the Suomi-NPP satellite are both environmental satellites that are part of the United States’ Joint Polar Satellite System, which involves scientists from both NOAA and NASA. They’re used to help predict severe weather and provide data that forecasters can use three to seven days ahead of a storm.


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