An “unprecedented” winter storm continued its assault on the nation on Monday, killing at least three people, leaving millions without power in Texas and wreaking havoc on travel across a wide swath of the United States due to snow and ice.
More than 150 million people have been subjected to a winter storm warning, winter weather advisory, or ice storm warning in 25 states, stretching more than 2,000 miles from south Texas to north Maine, the National Weather Service said.
A bitter, record-breaking cold accompanied the storm in the central United States. Hundreds of daily record temperatures have been or will be broken during this prolonged “polar dive”, the weather service said, “with records for low temperatures in February and even all weather at risk.”
More than 50 million people could see temperatures drop below zero over the next few days, according to the Capital Weather Gang.
At least three people died on Monday. The Louisiana Department of Health reported that a 50-year-old resident of Lafayette Parish slipped on the ice, fatally striking his head on the ground.
Two people have died in separate accidents in Kentucky, one on Interstate 64 and one on I-75, Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said in the afternoon.
“Do not take these roads. These roads are now extremely dangerous and dangerous, ”said Gray.
The roads in Louisiana were also treacherous. Gov. John Bel Edwards told a news conference Monday night that state police had worked on more than 150 road crashes that resulted in moderate to severe injuries as a mixture of snow, sleet and snow Freezing rain created dangerous conditions.
The outages were widespread on Monday, and more than 4.2 million were helpless, according to poweroutage.us, a utility tracking site. In Texas alone, more than 3.6 million customers were in the dark at 6:30 p.m. local time.
Spinning power outages were initiated by the Texas Electrical Reliability Council, or ERCOT, on Monday, which meant thousands of people went without power for short periods as temperatures fell in teens near of Dallas and Houston.
“We urge Texans to put safety first,” the council tweeted, urging residents to reduce their electricity use. ERCOT manages the flow of electrical energy in the state.
Utilities in Kansas and Missouri also implemented continual blackouts on Monday in response to overwhelming demand for electricity during the severe cold.
The country’s largest oil refinery has closed due to the harsh weather. Motiva said it has closed the Port Arthur, Texas refinery due to “unprecedented” freezing conditions along the Gulf Coast.
Matt Varble, in the Dallas suburb of Las Colinas, told the Dallas Morning News that his power was cut several times on Monday morning. The second time he went out around 3:30 a.m. and hadn’t come back by 7 a.m.
“It’s starting to get really cold inside my house,” Varble told the newspaper. “I have lived in the North for a very long time and nothing like this has ever happened when I have lived in New York City, Ohio and Illinois.”
Houston, where temperatures hit the 70s last Tuesday, recorded readings among teens Monday morning, prompting officials to advise residents to prepare for dangerous roads that could be similar to those encountered after a Category 5 hurricane .
In Texas, the storm could be a “once-in-a-generation” event considering extremely cold conditions, AccuWeather meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
San Angelo had its snowiest day on Sunday – 10.1 inches, the weather service said.
Stormy snows were reported early Monday as far south as the Gulf Coast in Galveston, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, weather.com reported.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson have each activated National Guard units to assist state agencies with tasks such as rescue stranded drivers.
In a statement, President Joe Biden declared an emergency in Texas and ordered federal assistance to help state and local government response efforts. The declaration enables the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide assistance, equipment and resources to those affected by the storm.
In my 45 years of covering Texas weather, I don't remember ever seeing all 254 counties in the state under a Winter Storm Warning. And in the Guadalupe Mountains there is actually a Blizzard Warning.#dfwwx #NBCDFWWeather— David Finfrock (@DavidFinfrock) February 14, 2021
Forecast at: https://t.co/OuB5hYmq3f pic.twitter.com/qJrF9YxDYj
Although snow was expected to fall over Texas on Monday, heavy snowfall and freezing rain are expected to advance northeast of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys to the northeast, the weather service said. “A wide swath of 6 to 12 inches of snow is forecast from the Ohio Valley and eastern Great Lakes to northern New England,” according to the weather service.
As of 7:35 p.m. EST, FlightAware had reported more than 6,300 canceled flights across the country on Monday and more than 4,900 delays. More than 2,400 cancellations are scheduled for Tuesday. Houston George Bush International Airport closed Monday morning due to ice buildup on the runways and will remain closed until Tuesday afternoon. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has also been closed.
The 38-degree high predicted Tuesday in New Orleans would equal 1899 as the coldest Mardi Gras on record, the Weather Service said. Most of the celebrations are canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Pacific Northwest, hundreds of thousands of people were left without power after a weekend winter storm blanketed the region with ice and snow and made travel perilous. About 300,000 people were helpless in Oregon, poweroutage.us reported. Snow-covered roads, downed trees, and power lines made travel in the Portland area perilous.
Blocked storm sewers in Washington state and Idaho have raised concerns about the flooding.
More than 70% of the United States was snow-capped Monday afternoon, the Weather Service reported.
In another cruel weather turn on Monday afternoon, parts of Florida, Alabama and Georgia were under tornado watch, meaning the weather conditions were favorable for tornado development.
Unfortunately, a second winter storm that hit the northwest on Monday is expected to bring more snow and ice to parts of the south, midwest and east this week, weather.com said