Texas appears to be in the crosshairs of a massive Arctic blast scheduled for next week. Meteorologists warn that temperatures could dive to extremes, while energy traders are concerned about a potential wave of freeze-offs across the state that could affect the flow of natural gas.
Judah Cohen, head of seasonal forecasting at AER, a Verisk company, told Axios the cold blast slated for around the Christmas holiday could be one of the most extreme cold air masses to pour into the southern part of the country in years. Computer model data shows temperatures could dive 30 degrees below average by Dec. 23.
Cohen warned the upcoming cold blast could be on par with the February 2021 episode when an Arctic blast triggered a grid failure across Texas.
"Next Thursday, dangerously cold air extends from Canada to Texas up to 58°F below normal."
AccuWeather forecasted the cold air could "challenge records that have stood since the 1980s from the northern Rockies to the Southeast, as well as stress energy grids, in the run-up to the Christmas holiday."
Houston-based NatGas research firm Criterion Research has been telling clients all week about the potential for upcoming freeze-offs.
Criterion said, "Midland, Texas, will post average temperatures below freezing for multiple days, with nightly lows of 20 degrees and daily highs just above the freeze line." They said in similar instances, freeze-offs have occurred, curtailing production.
The research firm said ERCOT's guidance for next week "is shaping up to be a big showing, with the ISO showing total load rising to 53 GW on Thursday (12/22). However, the demand shot is not quite as high as peak days during last winter and well off of summer highs for the ISO."
They noted ERCOT's fossil fuel power generation sources would rise next week to 30 GW. Any production freeze-off could affect energy flows to power plants.
"One concern that could lead to tightness for natural gas supply & demand is the rising risk of freeze-offs in the Southern US," Criterion said.
Next week's forecast for Central US and Texas sent natural gas futures soaring more than 7.5% today.
And as a reminder, Texas largely relies on NatGas for power generation. What could possibly go wrong?