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- The storm resulted from a polar vortex.
A powerful winter storm has left millions of people without power in Texas amid freezing temperatures.
Some Facebook users blamed President Joe Biden — not for a particular policy, but for the storm itself.
In a Feb. 15 post, Scott L. Biddle wrote that the storm resulted from "weather manipulation and controlling the jet stream" — something he assured people is "not a conspiracy theory."
"Joe Biden's ‘Dark Winter’ statement was not a random thought, it was a foreshadow of what was to come," Biddle wrote. "Texas is the only state to have its own, entirely independent electric grid separate from the rest of the United States. This is warfare, an attack on Texas by altering the jet stream, seeding the clouds, and ultimately causing the storm that blacked out over 4 million people."
"Sound crazy? Too hard to believe? Believe it."
Don’t believe it.
(Screenshot from Facebook)
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) We reached out to Biddle — who wrote a book of COVID-19 conspiracy theories that was removed from Amazon — but we haven’t heard back.
What he said isn’t true.
First, let’s examine the "‘dark winter’ statement." In November, Biden said the coronavirus pandemic could worsen over the winter months as Americans traveled for the holidays and were forced indoors by colder weather.
"We’re still facing a very dark winter," he said. "There are now nearly 10 million COVID cases in the United States."
Biden was not predicting a winter storm — he was predicting an influx of new daily COVID-19 cases and deaths, which hit record highs in early January and February, consecutively.
Now onto the Facebook post’s claim about Texas’ power grid. In 1970, the state created the Electric Reliability Council of Texas to avoid regulation from the federal government. The electric grid is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
However, that doesn’t mean the Biden administration altered the weather to attack Texas’ energy infrastructure.
The winter storm first hit the Pacific Northwest between Feb. 12-13, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. Then, it moved through the Southwest before hitting the central and southern plains.
The storm resulted from a polar vortex that brought Arctic air from Canada to many parts of the U.S. A polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding the Earth’s poles. It weakens in the summer and strengthens in the winter, when the vortex expands and sends cold air southward with the jet stream.
The jet stream is the product of strong winds created by Earth’s rotation on its axis — it would not be possible for the government to somehow step in and shake things up. The only measurable effect humans are thought to have on the jet stream is through climate change.
"Cloud seeding," on the other hand, is a real technique that’s sometimes used to produce moisture in drought-prone areas. Aircraft inject particles into clouds to encourage water droplets to freeze around them. In the right conditions, the process can create snow. Again, that’s not what is happening in Texas and many other parts of the country.
Cloud seeding has been cited as evidence for the chemtrails conspiracy theory, which falsely claims the government uses aircraft to spray chemicals in the sky to control the population. We found posts from Biddle in groups dedicated to the conspiracy theory.
The post is inaccurate and ridiculous. We rate it Pants on Fire!
CNBC, "President-elect Joe Biden on Covid-19: We’re still facing a very dark winter," Nov. 9, 2020
Facebook post, Feb. 15, 2021
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, ERCOT
Harvard University, "Researchers Use Cloud Seeding to Make it Rain," March 9, 2020
Lead Stories, "Fact Check: Trees Photographed In Europe Were NOT Chopped Down For 5G," April 14, 2020
National Geographic, "The jet stream, explained"
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Seeding
National Science Foundation, "Scientists demonstrate that cloud seeding can generate snowfall," Feb. 26, 2020
National Weather Service, "The Jet Stream"
National Weather Service, "What is the Polar Vortex?"
The New York Times, "Live Updates: Millions Without Power From Sprawling Winter Storm," Feb. 16, 2021
The New York Times, "Scientists Just Say No to ‘Chemtrails’ Conspiracy Theory," Aug. 16, 2016
The Seattle Times, "Northwest storm leaves at least 200,000 without power," Feb. 14, 2021
The Texas Tribune, "Texplainer: Why Does Texas Have Its Own Power Grid?" Feb. 8, 2011
USA Today, "Why is it so cold? How the polar vortex brings record low temperatures and winter storms," Feb. 16, 2021
The Washington Post, "More than 485,000 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S."
The Weather Channel, "Winter Storm Uri Spread Snow, Damaging Ice From Coast-to Coast, Including the Deep South (Recap)," Feb. 16, 2021
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