Winter Wonderland or Arctic Freeze? Here is its impact on businesses

For weeks, a split polar vortex, the effects of La Niña  and extreme weather events have converged to deliver some of the coldest weather in generations to the U.S. and Europe. Many of our friends in the U.K have named it the “Beast of the East II,” a sequel to the snow-laden event in 2018. A storm of this global magnitude has wreaked havoc on multiple industries and the customers they serve. Here is a quick round up of some of those impacts.



It’s no secret that snow, slush, sleet, and ice often creating nightmare traffic conditions but the recent 133-car pileup in Texas is a tragic reminder that bad road conditions have human and economic losses.

Keeping roads clear and safe for travel is especially challenging during winter when road managers are making critical decisions daily about if, when, and where to treat roads; calling in extra crew members; and ultimately how to keep travelers and commerce moving in the face of adverse winter weather conditions. Weather experts can provide the operational intelligence to help them make these decisions with confidence.

Another service for helping transportation agencies in the U.S. is the  maintenance decision support system (MDSS) and the Pooled Fund Study (PFS) project, originally created by the Federal Highway Administration. As the lead contractor for the PFS, DTN collaborates with the member transportation agencies to support and improve decisions around road management through continuous enhancement of the MDSS technology. The constant evaluation and feedback of the MDSS PFS applied to real-time operations helps to improve the safety and efficiencies of our road systems.



The storm has caused major disruptions to oil production and refined petroleum product delivery. Drilling equipment has frozen up and pipelines have instituted capacity restraints. Motiva, ExxonMobil and others have shut down their refining facilities. Texas is the largest crude-producing state in the country, producing some 4.6 million barrels of oil every day, so the ripples from these shut-ins and shut-downs will be felt in areas far beyond the Texas border.



While the number of flights have decreased significantly, aircrafts are still making daily trips –with passengers and cargo—during this arctic blast. One of the biggest challenges for airport operations is to decide if and when to de-ice the plane. De-icing too early may allow time for the wing to refreeze, de-icing too late can cause flight delays and insufficient staff for treating the planes. Take a look at the  factors that play in to de-icing protocols and other winter decisions for airport operations.



Nearly 3 million homes across the U.S. are experiencing power outages due to frigid temperatures. While a storm of this magnitude overloads the entire national grid, most weather events affect a specific location, or portion of the grid.  This is where storm impact analytics can help utilities keep the power on. DTN Chief Meteorologist Jim Foerster explains how the digital transformation in the utility sector has benefitted from predictive analytics and machine learning to prevent and mitigate outages. Eversource is one of many utilities that has been refining a prediction system aimed at anticipating a storm system’s impact and to develop a strategic plan for future events.



While mounting snow and bitter temperatures are good reasons to stay home, we all know there’s no such thing as a “day off” for most farmers and ranchers. The extra hours spent inside affords time to work on important parts of your business, such as planning crop rotations, or overhauling equipment. But it is also a good time to evaluate your ownership structure and management strategy. Take a look at these recommendations for winter work for farmers.

DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist finds some bright news for farmers and ranchers dealing with the bitter conditions. The snowfall, particularly in in the eastern Midwest and Plains area, offers some soil moisture potential to a drought-stricken region. Of course, he also mentions that after the snow melts, mud becomes “the challenging follow-up to a winter storm system.”


What’s Next

In a few weeks, the snow and bone-chilling winds of this winter storm will be over for most parts of the country. This will give businesses a brief reprieve before our focus turns to spring and severe storm season. Find out what to expect for the rest of the U.S. winter season and get a sneak peek at spring with our Mid-Winter Weather Risk Assessment. If the outlook patterns hold true, soon we will have another roundup of stories on its impact on businesses.