Winter weather has dominated the news cycle in Central Texas for the past 10 days. An ice storm that hit Feb. 11 quickly moved on, but it sent temperatures below freezing where they would stay for some 205 hours. We finally crept back above 32 degrees midday Friday.
The Waco Tribune-Herald did not deliver a printed edition for most of this week because our print site in Bryan was without power. There was no alternative site available with power, so we relied on our electronic edition, rather than the paper-and-ink product, to help us get vital information to our readers. E-editions have been around for more than 20 years and are increasingly popular as our industry straddles the divide between traditional print and current digital formats. Our website, wacotrib.com, delivered news and information about this week’s storm, updated as it happened, and social media amplified its availability, just as it does every day. Our e-edition allowed us to get other popular features to readers such as the crossword puzzle, comics and advice columns. This past week, with power outages and impossible driving conditions, the e-edition pinch hit for the Trib in its traditional form.
It also kept our carriers safe and at home every night during the storm.
Print delivery resumed with Friday’s edition. The snow is melting and ice is retreating from our streets. The power is back on for most — though not all — McLennan County residents. We have returned to regular deadlines as well. This week taxed us all and brought out the best in our news department. Our newsroom has been on work-from-home footing since the coronavirus pandemic hit almost a year ago. Reporters no longer need to be tethered to the newsroom to file stories or photos. Our staff moved from place to place at times when the power went off, but persevered in providing factual information in a straightforward manner.
The storm is not over yet. Municipal crews are working in miserable conditions to keep the water system going without the city having to issue a boil notice, plugging leaks as fast as they can. Plumbers are busy repairing damage to homes and businesses as pipes thaw. Streets may be clearing, but dangerous black ice conditions remain. Oncor crews continue to crisscross the area, eliminating isolated pockets of power outages.
It will be weeks before we get a sense of how and why the rolling blackouts, which quite frankly did not do a lot of rolling, seemed to catch everyone off-guard. Meanwhile, on Sunday we’ll begin telling stories of survival from a dark week in sometimes sub-zero temperatures. People will always remember where they were on Feb. 15-16, 2021, when the power went out and temperatures dipped into the low single digits, bottoming out at minus-1 on Tuesday morning.
If you subscribe to the Trib, we highly recommend you activate your digital subscription at wacotrib.com/activate. There is no additional cost and it gives subscribers unlimited access to our website, the e-edition and extensive archives from any electronic device. A large number of subscribers had done so before this past week. Hundreds more joined them when the ice and snow hit.
We also recommend investing in a reliable car charging cable.