Power outages linger for millions as another icy storm looms

Thursday, 18 Feb, 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.

ERCOT, which instituted blackouts to cope with the surge in demand, asked that people focus on fixing the problem first before assigning blame.

Authorities were reportedly struggling to clear roads, as they did not have snow plows because the state so rarely needs them.

"We need to start taking a look at extreme weather".

Deaths attributed to the storm have been recorded in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and Missouri.

In all, almost 3 million customers in Texas still had no power Wednesday after historic snowfall and single-digit temperatures created a surge in demand for electricity to warm up homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid and causing widespread blackouts.

"That has really come back to bite us".

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told CNN Tuesday night that she was been without power or water for around 38 hours.

Stephanie Murdoch, 51, began bundling up inside her Dallas condominium wearing blankets, two pairs of trousers, three pairs of socks, a hat and gloves since the power first went out early Monday. I have four young children.

Outages are happening on a rolling basis, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees the grid, has not been able to predict when they will end.

Rotating outages are the "best case" scenario, Dan Woodfin said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Monday the state canceled all of its mass vaccination events scheduled for February 15-19 because of the extreme winter weather, according to a news release from the Governor's office. 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.

One county said it had seen more than 300 suspected carbon monoxide cases during the cold snap.

In Houston on Monday, a homeless man was killed "possibly from exposure", according to the Harris County Sheriff's Department, and the city's police chief said another man had been found dead after potential exposure to low temperatures.

The winter storm spawned at least four tornadoes, according to Atlanta-based weather.com, including one in coastal North Carolina late Monday that killed at least three people and injured 10 more.

Other death causes included vehicle crashes and carbon monoxide poisoning.The brutal weather has also forced a number of COVID-19 vaccination sites to close and has caused delays in vaccine shipments and deliveries across the country. Some centres raced to use vaccines that could no longer be refrigerated at the required temperature.

Texas' deregulated energy market gives little financial incentives for operators to prepare for the rare bout of intensely cold weather, an issue critics have been pointing out for years.

Millions of people in Texas remained in the dark early Tuesday amid subfreezing temperatures, and authorities warned of treacherous travel conditions in many states. Around a quarter of homes in Dallas are also experiencing blackouts. "In the meantime, I encourage all Texans to continue to stay off the roads, and conserve energy as state agencies work with private providers to restore power as quickly as possible".

Rick Perry, the former Texas governor and United States energy secretary under President Donald Trump, said: "If this Green New Deal goes forward the way the Biden administration appears to want it to, then we'll have more events like we've had in Texas all across the country". He later told local media that the body should be reformed and its leaders should resign.