Millions Still Without Power as Winter Storm Grips Texas

Henrietta Strickland
February 18, 2021

The winter weather that has overwhelmed power grids, leaving millions without electricity in record-breaking cold has kept its grip on parts of the U.S. on Wednesday.

Neil Chatterjee, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also said on CNBC Wednesday that the power outages seem to be a combination of the extreme weather event coupled with a spike in demand for electricity, stating that he thinks "people are so quick to view things through partisan lenses".

In Chicago, a foot and a half (46 centimeters) of new snow forced public schools to cancel in-person classes for Tuesday.

The rush for food came as a historic storm battered Texas and parts of the central U.S. Tuesday, killing at least 21 people and cutting off power to millions.

This comes as states with typically mild winters - including Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Kentucky - are already facing hazardous roads, power outages and water shut offs from the winter storms.

Power companies in Texas have implemented rolling blackouts to avoid grids being overloaded as residents crank up the heat.

Texas officials requested 60 generators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and planned to prioritize hospitals and nursing homes.

The American Red Cross said it had opened over 35 warming centers across Texas.

"I am confident that if we take the politics out of this and let the engineers and the economists and the experts examine what went on here, we will figure out ways to continue the energy transition that's taking place in Texas and around the country while maintaining the reliable affordable grid that really sets Texas and the United States of America apart from the rest of the world", Chatterjee said.

In the wee hours Monday morning, electricity demand overwhelmed the grid as temperatures plummeted.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees the state's electric grid, started rolling blackouts earlier this week to conserve power.

Texas officials said more than 400,000 doses due now will not arrive until at least Wednesday because of the storm.

"Those very same areas could be impacted - that will include tornadoes and damaging winds", he said.

Three people died and 10 were injured when the tornado tore through a golf course community and another rural area just before midnight Monday, destroying dozens of homes. Resident Sharon Benson told CBS News she was shocked by the tornado, because forecasters "said it was going to rain".

Many weather-related deaths so far have resulted from traffic accidents, but Houston police said a woman and a girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning after sitting in a vehicle in a garage with the engine running to keep warm. In Oregon, authorities confirmed on Tuesday that four people died in the Portland area of carbon monoxide poisoning. The weather has led to at least 26 deaths, including three people who died in carbon monoxide related incidents and one driver who hit a snowplow.

A man in Louisiana died when he hit his head after slipping on ice, and a 10-year-old Tennessee boy perished after he and his six-year-old sister fell through the ice into a pond Sunday.

Several cities had record lows: In Minnesota, the Hibbing/Chisholm weather station registered minus 38 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 39 degrees Celsius).

At midday, more than 2,700 US flights had been canceled, led by more than 800 at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and more than 700 at Bush Intercontinental in Houston.

Snow and record cold continued Wednesday in the southwestern state where temperatures are forecast to remain at or below freezing.

"What is not true is that that is anywhere near in the top five list of the problems that have caused millions of homes to lose power this week and have caused life-threatening conditions across the state".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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