Two dead in Texas amid subfreezing cold snap

Carla Harmon
February 17, 2021

According to the National Weather Service, more than 150 million people across the country - a number that represents half of the USA population - are now under winter weather advisories, most of which will remain in effect well into Tuesday.

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

"I know they can't see us right now because they're without electricity, but the president and I are thinking of them and really hope that we can do everything that is possible through the signing of the emergency orders to get federal relief to support them", Harris said.

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

More than 500 people were hunkering down at one shelter in Houston, but Mayor Sylvester Turner said other warming centres had to be shut down because those locations, too, lost power.

Winter storm watches were in effect from Baltimore to Boston, and Texas was braced for more icy rain and possibly more snow.

At least 13 children were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth and one parent died of the toxic fumes, hospital officials said.

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 vehicle left running in an attached garage, and two men found along Houston-area roadways who likely died in subfreezing temperatures, law enforcement officials said.

With more frigid days expected in Texas, where frustration mounted over power outages that weren't expected to be resolved until later Tuesday at the earliest.

"Things will likely get worse before they get better", said Hidalgo.

Dan Woodfin, a senior director for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, told Bloomberg News that frozen instruments at natural gas, coal and nuclear facilities combined with limited supplies of natural gas led to the energy failures.

Some utilities said they were starting blackouts, while others urged customers to reduce power usage.

Officials in Texas say two people are dead likely because of the subfreezing temperatures that have caused massive power outages across the state.

The toll of the worsening conditions included setbacks in the delivery of new COVID-19 vaccine shipments, which were expected to be delayed until at least midweek.

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

In Kansas, where wind chills dropped to as low as -34C (-30F) in some areas, Governor Laura Kelly declared a state of disaster.

"But not before it causes heavy snow and freezing rain in parts of the eastern Great Lakes and New England", the NWS said.

Travel remains ill-advised in much of the nation, with highways treacherous and thousands of flights cancelled.

"Swaths of half an inch of ice will be possible" over the next three days for areas from Texas to MS and up through Virginia, according to the National Weather Service.

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