Two dead in Texas amid subfreezing cold snap

Marco Green
February 17, 2021

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said at a midday news conference that 1.3 million people in his city remain without power. At that time, too, natural gas generation experienced difficulties - had ERCOT not reduced load through the rolling blackouts implemented during that storm, it would have resulted in widespread blackouts throughout the entire region, a federal report on the storm warned. The weather also threatened to affect the nation's COVID-19 vaccination effort.

US President Joe Biden declared an emergency in Texas in a statement Sunday night.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said the winter storm will move towards the northeast United States before "making a beeline for eastern Canada".

"We needed to step in and make sure that we were not going to end up with Texas in a blackout, which could keep without folks without power - not just some people without power but everyone in our region without power - for much, much longer than we believe this event is going to last, as long and as hard as this event is right now", ERCOT CEO Bill Magness said. Four million people lost power in Mexico. There is another storm on the way on Wednesday, expected to bring more snow, ice and sleet from the Texas panhandle through Kentucky and up through Washington DC to New York City, New Jersey and Boston.

More than 500 people sought comfort at one Houston shelter. "And, pumps use electricity, so they're not even able to lift that gas and liquid, because there's no power to produce".

"It's worse than a hurricane", Harrell said. Power plants in Texas usually do maintenance and updates to their plants during the typically mild winter months in preparation for the extreme electricity and power demand during the summer.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) sought to cut power use in response to a winter record of 69 150 megawatts on Sunday evening, more than 3 200 MW higher than the previous winter peak in January 2018.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, a reading of minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 35 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday shattered a record set in 1978 of minus 18F (minus 27C).

Texas declares state of emergency as dangerous winter storm causes power outages for millions
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The PowerOutage.us website, which tracks power outages, said 4 113 701 Texas customers were experiencing outages at 02:05 (07:05 GMT) on Tuesday.

County officials distributed the doses that could have spoiled at three hospitals, Rice University and the county jail because there were large groups of people available who would not have to drive and appropriate medical personnel present.

"It feels unbelievable. I'm very grateful", said Harry Golen, a college sophomore who waited for almost four hours with his friends, much of it in the cold, and was among the last people to get the shots, which otherwise would not have reached students until March or April. The Texas Department of State Health Services said vaccine shipments around the state would be delayed.

Sharon Benson, 63, said her roof was damaged and her garage door blown off. Windows were shattered and nearby trees were uprooted.

"The sky lit up and there was a lot of pop-pop-popping" and thunder, she said. A MS man died after losing control of his vehicle, which overtuned on an icy road Monday night near Starkville, Oktibbeha County coroner Michael Hunt said Tuesday. Authorities said three young children and their grandmother, who were believed to be trying to keep warm, also died in a suburban Houston house fire early Tuesday.

Texas law enforcement reported that two men were found dead along Houston-area roadways. "This is happening every 10 years, and there's got to be a better plan".

Several cities in the U.S. saw record lows as Arctic air remained over the central part of the country. In Minnesota, the Chisholm-Hibbing weather station registered -39C (-38F), while Sioux Falls, South Dakota temperatures dropped to -32C (-26F).

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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