Published On: Tue, Feb 16th, 2021

In Texas, millions face record lows without power as new storm approaches



More than 4 million Texans went to bed without heat Monday night as record low temperatures brought a demand for power that the state’s electric grid couldn’t keep up with and as another major storm took aim at much of the country’s mid-section Tuesday.

The storm that dropped snow and ice from Arkansas to Indiana — and brought record-low temperatures from Oklahoma City to Minnesota’s Iron Range, where thermometers dipped to minus 38 — was expected to move into the northeast Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.

Snow, freezing rain and ice are expected from the Ohio Valley to Pennsylvania and Maine, the forecaster said.

In Texas, 4.3 million homes and businesses were without power as of Monday night, with the hardest hit area around Galveston and Houston, according to poweroutage.us.

Forecasters warned that the region could see its coldest night in 30 years as officials pleaded with residents to stay off the roads, conserve power and seal up drafty windows and doors.

“I’m not gonna’ pretend it’s not gonna’ be a tough night,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters Monday. “We’re gonna’ be watching, responding to crises that come up and let’s get through this together.”

Among the crises that the county had already handled was a power outage — and subsequent failure of a backup generator — at its public health department, where more than 8,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine were being held in cold storage, Hidalgo said.

Pedestrians walk on an icy road in East Austin, Texas, on Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.Montinique Monroe / Getty Images

Thousands of doses were promptly dispatched to the Harris County Jail, Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, Rice University and elsewhere, she said.

Images from the school showed dozens of shivering students awaiting their shots.

“I literally dropped everything, got everything on and sprinted here, and apparently everybody had the same thought as me,” one student told NBC affiliate KPRC.

Law enforcement reported two men were found dead along Houston-area roadways. Causes of death were pending, but officials said the subfreezing temperatures were likely to blame.

Elsewhere in Texas, San Antonio International Airport canceled all flights scheduled for Tuesday, and the Dallas Stars delayed a National Hockey League game against the Nashville Predators in an effort to conserve energy.

The Houston Chronicle, meanwhile, was forced to stop producing its print edition after its plant lost power at 2 a.m. In a note to subscribers, the newspaper said that hadn’t even happened when the city was battered by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Power outages forced Abilene, a city of about 170,000 residents, to shut down its water service.

In a bid to save power, officials in Dallas said their skylines would go dark, and Kansas City did the same.

Kansas City, Missouri, like cities scattered across the U.S., including in Tennessee and Iowa, were threatened with rolling power outages Monday. The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities across 17 states, called for rolling outages because the supply of reserve energy had been exhausted.

The Pacific Northwest was hammered by a weekend storm and was dealing with lingering problems Monday, with hundreds of thousands of people in Oregon still in the dark after heavy snow and ice brought down tree branches this weekend and blocked storm drains in Washington state and Idaho, raising concerns about flooding.

Nearly 5,000 power lines were brought down by ice and tree limbs and multiple transmission lines were severely damaged by the storm that swept through.

The National Weather Service said the next storm was expected to move from the Rockies into the Southern Plains on Tuesday, bringing freezing rain to east Texas and Louisiana and as much as 8 inches of snow to parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri.

The Associated Press contributed.





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