Millions Still Without Power as Winter Storm Grips Texas

Customers whose homes are without electric power wait in line to purchase food and snacks at a gas station in Pflugerville

Millions were left without power as a winter storm gripped the southern and central United States Tuesday with record-low temperatures in ill-prepared areas, and a tornado claiming three lives.

People queue in the freezing rain to fill propane tanks on February 17, 2021, in Houston, US.

"It is estimated that at least 50 homes were affected in the incident and several power lines were damaged, causing power outages", Brunswick County Emergency Services said in a statement.

This week's storms - with more still heading east - fit a pattern of worsening extremes under climate change and demonstrate anew that local, state and federal officials have failed to do almost enough to prepare for greater and more unsafe weather. Ercot said 600,000 households had power restored overnight.

Other Texas deaths included a woman and a girl who died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in Houston at a home without electricity from a auto left running in an attached garage, and two men found along Houston-area roadways who likely died in subfreezing temperatures, law enforcement officials said.

"Temperatures will still remain 20 to 35 degrees (Fahrenheit) below normal throughout the Plains, Mississippi Valley, and lower Great Lakes", the NWS said.

Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, said: "There's really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area".

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), more than 71 percent of the continental United States was covered in snow Wednesday.

Further inland, Chicago was expecting to see up to 14 inches of snow before the end of the cold snap.

In Texas, power companies have implemented rolling blackouts to avoid grids being overloaded as residents cranked up electric heaters.

Beto O'Rourke, a former Democratic presidential candidate from Texas, told MSNBC television the situation was "worse than you are hearing".

The storms are big news this week, especially in light of their effect on COVID-19 vaccinations as well as freezing Americans, but that doesn't mean they won't become more common, experts say.

"So much of this was avoidable", O'Rourke added.

Republican politicians are using the widespread power outages in Texas to place false blame on renewable energy sources, but clean energy isn't what was fueling the majority of power plants that failed.

According to the tracking site, more than three million residential, commercial and industrial customers were without electricity in Texas as of Tuesday evening.

Entergy has nearly 3 million electric power customers in the four states.

Vice President Kamala Harris addressed those who had lost power during a live interview on Wednesday on NBC's Today programme.

"Building resilient and sustainable infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather and a changing climate will play an integral role" in creating jobs and meeting Biden's goal of "a net-zero emissions future", White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

While several of the weather-related deaths so far have resulted from traffic accidents, Houston police said a woman and a girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning after sitting in a garaged vehicle with the engine running to keep warm.

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 on Sunday.

Millions of people in Texas in the US awoke on Wednesday without heat again following a historic winter storm that has killed 21 people so far, as icy conditions threatened to plague the country's largest state and surrounding region for days. Some of the fatalities involve people dying in their cars in subfreezing temperatures.

At least two dozen people have died this week, including from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning while struggling to find warmth inside their homes.

Two agricultural workers also died in neighboring Tamaulipas from hypothermia.



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