Cold Winter Storm Could Bring Trouble to ERCOT

Early next week, expect record cold weather during what climatologists view as the coldest time of the year. This will mean elevated electricity demand for most of the country, especially in ERCOT where things might get extremely risky on the grid in the early mornings if wind doesn't show up.

The cold may extend out beyond a longer period with a cold risk for both the 6-10 day forecasts and the 11-15 day for most of the U.S. With a winter storm happening earlier in the year (as opposed to February), there will be less solar generation in the early mornings when it is coldest and people will be turning on their heaters.

What Our Chief Meteorologist Says – Weather Blocks

A stratospheric warming event has triggered strongly negative Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which is causing “blocking” that will unleash prolonged periods of cold. A weather block disrupts the typical weather patterns, leading to persistent and sometimes extreme weather conditions, like this severe cold front.

The winter started out mild. December 2023 was the second warmest since 1950. January also started fairly warm, but is now trending cold to very cold. Expect a very cold February too.

How This Differs from Winter Storm Uri

While this won’t be as cold as February three years ago, there still might be some problematic hours as the sun starts to rise. In ERCOT, it’s still dark at 7:00 AM so there won’t be enough solar generation to compete with the low temperatures. Dallas is expected to be in the teens for two to three days in the early morning. Though, the lack of snow cover will allow the temperatures to come up.

Low wind is expected next week in ERCOT which could be a big problem during the early morning ramp-up with no or limited solar generation. 


All weather models show record cold for both Monday, January 15th and Tuesday, January 16th with a continued colder risk for the 11-15 day forecast. Monday is a holiday (MLK Day) so the real test will be Tuesday. 

Warning: The early morning ramp-up will be a problem with little solar generation during those early, cold hours. If wind does not show up, there could be some major problems. Sunrise in Dallas is 7:31 AM local time, which makes 5:00 - 8:30 AM the most risky.

Since all models are consistently showing record cold and low wind, there is a possibility of record winter demand on Tuesday. C&I, data centers, and everyone else that can shed load will be encouraged to do so.

For reference, demand peaked during Winter Storm Elliott at 74 GW (Dec 23 at 8:00 AM)


Cold starting January 14th, especially in the western part of PJM where Chicago will have sub-zero temperatures three days in a row.

For reference, demand peaked during Winter Storm Elliott at 134.7 GW (Dec 23 at 7:00 PM)


Cold starting January 13th with cold to very cold weather the rest of the week.

For reference, demand peaked during Winter Storm Elliott at 105.9 GW (Dec 23 at 7:00 PM)


Cold starting January 12th with cold to very cold for the rest of the week.

For reference, demand peaked during Winter Storm Elliott at 46.9 GW (Dec 22 at 8:00 PM)

Accurate Forecasts During Volatility 

This is the new world of crazy weather. More extreme cold. Lots of rain. Even tornadoes in the Southeast. Winter storms, in particular, exhibit erratic behavior — unexpected rapid advances or plummeting temperatures — that disrupts normal forecasts and planning. Amidst this increased volatility, having accurate and timely demand forecasts becomes not just advantageous but crucial for businesses to navigate these uncertainties. 

Amperon offers precisely this: reliable and up-to-date demand forecasts. With our advanced analytics and real-time data, we provide the insights needed to navigate volatile weather conditions, helping businesses mitigate risk. Don't let unpredictable weather catch you off guard — connect with us now for the most up-to-date and reliable information to optimize your demand forecasts against the volatility of today's weather landscape. 

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