The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A Texas meteorologist warned of power outages. Then the lights went out.

Travis Herzog was giving his weather report on the Texas heat wave when the lights went out. (KTRK)
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During his 3 p.m. weather report on Wednesday, Travis Herzog, a meteorologist for KTRK in Houston, stood in front of a screen showing the astronomically high temperatures broiling Texas — as hot as 105 degrees in College Station.

When you “have this kind of heat over major populations,” Herzog explained, “you get a big draw on that electric demand.”

But just before Herzog uttered the word “electric,” the lights went out, turning Herzog into a silhouette in front of the weather map.

“It looks like we may have just switched over to generator power; our lights just went out,” Herzog said before continuing to talk about the “excessive heat” in some Texas cities. Seconds later, the lights turned back on.

But two hours later, it happened again. As Herzog warned of triple-digit heat in some regions of Texas on the 5 p.m. broadcast, the lights shut off.

“Maybe it’s just my electrifying personality, maybe not,” Herzog tweeted afterward. “But this time I was fully expecting Ashton Kutcher to come around the corner and say, ‘You’ve been PUNKED!’ ”

The quirky moments came as Texas is experiencing a record-breaking heat wave that is pushing the state’s power grid to its limits. This past week, Texas endured triple-digit temperatures in many cities, prompting state energy officials to request that residents conserve energy and turn up their thermostats.

Unforgiving heat wave in Texas and Southern Plains to worsen next week

Concerns of power shut-offs during the extreme weather have left residents on edge, the Texas Tribune reported. In February 2021, 3.5 million Texans lost power amid a record cold wave, in which temperatures in some areas dropped to freezing. More than 200 people died.

This month, it’s the heat that’s become dangerous. In Houston, where Herzog works, temperatures reached 105 degrees on Sunday, making it the hottest July day in city history. That day, College Station, north of Houston, reached 111 degrees, its second hottest day on record. San Antonio has reached at least 100 degrees on a record 35 days this year.

Neighboring states are also expected to experience the dangerously high temperatures. Nationwide, summers are becoming hotter and longer thanks to climate change, resulting in wildfires, droughts and flooding, depending on the region, The Washington Post has reported.

Summer in America is becoming hotter, longer and more dangerous

Herzog tweeted Wednesday that he did not know why exactly the lights went out twice during his broadcasts. He explained that the display behind him and the other production equipment are connected to a backup power source, and that is why he didn’t go off the air.

“What I can tell you is that grid conditions are getting *really* tight,” Herzog wrote. “Hopefully we can get through this with the lights and A/C ON!”

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