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Expand chart
Data: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

A new report on the widespread power outages in Texas in February calls for tougher standards to ensure reliability in freezing weather — and puts numbers behind the breadth of the deadly catastrophe.

Why it matters: A deep freeze in February across the country's midsection led to failures in multiple parts of the Texas power system, leading to over 200 deaths and highlighting major vulnerabilities there.

The big picture: A preliminary assessment from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows the scope of the disaster. It was largely in Texas, where millions of customers lost power, though other states also had problems.

  • Well over half the power units affected were gas-fired, the report authored with the nonprofit North American Electric Reliability Corporation shows.
  • Freezing equipment at power plants and curtailed gas supply — due to component freezes and lost power at wells and processing sites — were the biggest problems.

What's next: It lays out a suite of recommendations, including stronger standards for cold weather protection.

  • FERC Chairman Richard Glick, in a statement, called the crisis a "wake-up" call and noted that recommendations for improvements after a 2011 extreme cold event in Texas went unheeded.
  • The new report must not just gather dust, he said.

Threat level: New research finds that global warming may be altering the shape and stability of the polar vortex — the swirl of winds high above the Arctic. This can send bouts of frigid air well south into the mid-latitudes, including Texas. The Washington Post has more.

Go deeper: Feds say tougher rules needed to protect Texas power plants (AP)

Go deeper

Historic wind storm spawns tornadoes, causes widespread power outages

Satellite image showing smoke plumes from wildfires, blowing dust, and thunderstorms with lightning flashes detected across the Plains on Dec. 15. Image: CIRA/RAMMB

An expansive storm is unleashing an array of hazardous weather to a broad swath of the lower 48 states — with winds reaching 85 to 100 mph from Colorado to Iowa, along with record warmth that's fueled an ongoing derecho moving into Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Why it matters: The storm set all-time high temperatures for the month of December on Wednesday, as readings soared into the 70s all the way to the Iowa-Minnesota border. Its winds had knocked out power to some 500,000 customers in 10 states Thursday, with outages climbing in Iowa and Kansas, per poweroutage.us.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

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