By PAUL J. WEBER and JAKE BLEIBERG
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A frigid blast of winter climate throughout the U.S. plunged Texas into an unusually icy emergency Monday that knocked out power to greater than 2 million individuals, closed dangerously snowy and slick highways and put the supply of latest COVID-19 vaccine shipments on maintain.
Temperatures nosedived into the single-digits as far south as San Antonio, and houses that had already been without electrical energy for hours had no certainty about when the lights and warmth would come again on, as the state’s overwhelmed power grid throttled into rotating blackouts which are sometimes solely seen in 100-degree Fahrenheit (38-degree Celsius) summers.
The storm was a part of an enormous system that introduced snow, sleet and freezing rain to the southern Plains and was spreading throughout the Ohio Valley and to the Northeast.
“We’re residing by means of a extremely historic occasion happening proper now,” stated Jason Furtado, a professor of meteorology on the College of Oklahoma, pointing to all of Texas underneath a winter storm warning and the extent of the freezing temperatures.
In Houston, the place county leaders had warned that the deteriorating circumstances might create issues on the size of huge hurricanes that slam the Gulf Coast, one electrical supplier stated power might not be restored to some properties till Tuesday.
“This climate occasion, it’s actually unprecedented. All of us residing right here know that,” stated Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations on the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas. He defended preparations made by grid operators and described the demand on the system as record-setting.
“This occasion was properly past the design parameters for a typical, and even an excessive, Texas winter that you’d usually plan for. And so that’s actually the end result that we’re seeing,” Woodfin stated.
The biggest grocery retailer chain in Texas, H-E-B, closed areas round Austin and San Antonio, cities which are unaccustomed to snow and have little assets to clear roads.
State well being officers stated Texas, which anticipated to obtain greater than 400,000 extra vaccine doses this week, now doesn’t anticipating deliveries to happen till not less than Wednesday. “Vaccination will resume as quickly as it’s protected,” stated Douglas Loveday, a spokesman for the Texas Division of State Well being Companies.
Lauren Schneider, a 24-year-old lab technician, was strolling to a Dallas grocery retailer close to her dwelling Monday morning dressed in a coat, hat and face masks. Schneider stated she didn’t really feel snug driving with the roads coated in snow and ice. She stated she hadn’t seen a severe snowfall in Dallas since her childhood and was caught without sufficient groceries.
“I actually didn’t suppose it’s can be this severe,” stated Schneider.
A number of cities in the U.S. noticed document lows as Artic air remained over the central a part of the nation. In Minnesota, the Hibbing/Chisholm climate station registered minus 38 levels Fahrenheit (minus 39 levels Celsius), whereas Sioux Falls, South Dakota, dropped to minus 26 Fahrenheit (minus 26 levels Celsius).
In Kansas, the place wind chills dropped to as low as minus 30 levels Fahrenheit (minus 34 levels Celsius) in some areas, Gov. Laura Kelly declared a state of catastrophe.
Most authorities places of work and faculties had been closed for Presidents Day, and authorities pleaded with residents to remain dwelling. Louisiana State Police reported that it had investigated practically 75 weather-related crashes attributable to a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain in the previous 24 hours.
“We have already got some accidents on our roadways,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear stated throughout a morning information convention. “It’s slick and it’s harmful.”
Air journey was additionally affected. By midmorning, 3,000 flights had been canceled throughout the nation, about 1,600 of them at Dallas/Fort Price Worldwide and Bush Intercontinental airports in Texas. At DFW, the temperature was 4 levels Fahrenheit (-15 levels Celsius) — 3 levels (-16 levels) colder than Moscow.
The storm arrived over a three-day vacation weekend that has seen probably the most U.S. air journey because the interval round New Yr’s. Greater than 1 million individuals went by means of airport safety checkpoints on Thursday and Friday. Nonetheless, that was nonetheless lower than half the site visitors of a yr in the past, earlier than the pandemic hit with full pressure.
The southern Plains had been gearing up for the winter climate for the higher a part of the weekend. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a catastrophe declaration for all the state’s 254 counties. Abbott, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson every activated Nationwide Guard models to help state businesses with duties together with rescuing stranded drivers.
President Joe Biden additionally declared an emergency in Texas in a press release Sunday night time. The declaration is meant so as to add federal help to state and native response efforts.
Related Press journalists David Koenig in Dallas, Rebecca Reynolds Yonker in Louisville, Ky., Kate Brumback in Atlanta, Margaret Stafford in Liberty, Mo., and Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.