Meteorologist Cody Gottschalk gives day-by-day breakdown of 2021 winter storm

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 11:10 AM CST
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EAST TEXAS (KLTV/KTRE) - The February winter outbreak of 2021 was an event for the record books. Following is a day-by-day timeline.

Sunday, Feb. 14, many East Texans woke up to sleet and light snow already on the ground and on the roads, where it remained as temperatures sat below freezing for several days. Later that evening, snow began to fall and quickly blanketed East Texas in thick sheets of white flurries, amounting to several inches by sunrise.

Tuesday started off with clear skies and record-breaking low temperatures, with many dropping below zero for several hours.

The second round of snow and sleet began to fall starting very early Wednesday morning and would continue to fall in intervals until finally ending early on Thursday morning. Temperatures remained well below freezing the entire week but some areas did see a slight melt Thursday afternoon before plummeting back down into the lower teens by Friday morning, which means the melted snow and sleet quickly re-froze back into a thick sheet of ice on roadways, making travel almost impossible across portions of East Texas.

Friday, Feb. 19. temperatures warmed to around 40 degrees in the afternoon which helped melt enough of the ice for travel to become possible once more.

East Texas usually does not average more than an inch of snow per year, with some years no frozen precipitation at all.

The February winter storm of 2021 was different in many ways. In addition to the unusually large amount of snow over the 5-day period, the coldest temperatures in East Texas were recorded in some cities. Tyler and Longview both dropped below zero, with Lufkin almost tying a record at 3 degrees.

Wind chill values also dropped below zero on both Monday and Tuesday. This storm wreaked havoc with thousands of Texans without power for hours and for many days, meaning they had no way of heating up homes during this frigid week.

The cold turned deadly without proper means of staying warm. The Texas Department of State Health Services reports 246 people died due to winter storm-related deaths, 161 of those deaths were directly related to extreme cold exposure.

Nineteen deaths were from carbon monoxide poisonings due to improper use of generators, grills, heaters, or vehicles running in enclosed spaces. The other 66 deaths were due to the worsening of pre-existing illnesses, motor vehicle accidents, fires, and falls.

KLTV & KTRE are looking back at how East Texans weathered the historic winter storm of 2021 and how life has changed a year later. Click here for special content on our ‘Storm of the Century: One Year Later’ page.

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