Residents of a town just north of Dallas, Texas were awoken in the middle of a cold night this week to what sounded like a volley of gunshots outside their home. When they finally made their way outdoors, the residents learned those shocking sounds didn’t actually originate from firearms but were rather the result of exploding trees.
In an interview with local outlet NBC DFW, Princeton, Texas resident Lauren Rever said temperatures during this week’s brutal winter storm had dipped so low it has caused the sap inside surrounding trees to freeze. As the liquid hardened, it expanded, eventually bursting the trees open and emitting a gun-like pop in the process. The popped trees brought down others with it, ultimately destroying Revere’s barn which had collapsed under the debris and a sheet of ice.
“All of a sudden you just hear a great bang and they take out two or three more trees with it,” Rever said.
Texas was one of several states caught in the line of fire of a major winter storm making its way through much of the U.S. this week that left at least 300,000 people without power on Thursday, according to The Washington Post. On Friday, around 22,000 Texans were left without power according to the national outage tracker PowerOutage.us. That included Rever who told NBC DFW she was relying on a propane heater to keep warm. “All of our firewood is frozen,” Rever said.
Earlier this week Texas Power grid operators told The Texas Tribune they were expecting the state to set a new record for energy demand during the storm. Brad Jones, CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas estimated state residents would demand around 72,000 megawatts of power on Friday, which would exceed the estimated 69,000 megawatts demand reached moments before the grid failed in last year’s disastrous storm. That outage left around 4.5 million residents without power for days and resulted in hundreds of deaths.
In a press conference earlier this week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott told residents he didn’t think a repeat of 2021 was likely.
“We are dealing with one of the most significant icing events that we’ve had in the state of Texas in at least several decades,” Abbott said according to The New York Times. “The power grid is performing very well. There is plenty of power available at this time, as well as plenty of power expected for the remainder of today and early tomorrow.”
The state has already faced several tests to its power grid this year, with a previous January storm sending temperature dipping as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit in some parts of the Permian Basin. Outside of the electricity worries, the storm has frozen roads, leading to a surge in traffic crashes from Austin and Dallas to Houston.