Thursday, 25 February, 2021

Subfreezing cold sweeps through Texas

A boy walks up a snow-covered hill after sledding down it in a box in Houston Texas the United States A boy walks up a snow-covered hill after sledding down it in a box in Houston Texas the United States
Sandy Nunez | 17 February, 2021, 13:23

President Joe Biden granted a federal emergency declaration for all 254 counties in the state on Sunday.

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.

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

Unusually cold temperatures and slippery road conditions prompted officials in the Deep South to urge people to stay home as the winter storms shut down roads and caused traffic accidents, among other issues. The Harris County Public Health facility lost power between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Monday and its backup generator also failed, said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

"It feels incredible. I'm very grateful", said Harry Golen, a 19-year-old student who waited for almost four hours with his friends, much of it in the cold.

North Carolina's Brunswick County had little notice of the risky weather, and a tornado warning was not issued until the storm was already on the ground.

The tornado that hit Brunswick County was an EF3 with winds estimated at 160 miles per hour, the weather service said on Twitter.

Authorities were struggling to clear roads, as they do not have snow plows because the state so rarely needs them, The New York Times reported.

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Four died in Monterrey, three of them homeless people who succumbed to exposure and one person who died at home from carbon monoxide poisoning from a heater. A MS man died after losing control of his vehicle, which overtuned on an icy road Monday night near Starkville, Oktibbeha County coroner Michael Hunt said Tuesday. One parent died of the toxic fumes, pediatrician Phillip Scott told Fort Worth television station KTVT.

Deaths in Texas included a woman and a girl died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in Houston, at a home without electricity from a auto running in an attached garage, police said.

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

Several cities in the USA saw record lows as Arctic air remained over the central part of the country.

Air travel was also affected.

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

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, dropped to minus 26F.