In Texas, the governor asked the National Guard for help. In Kansas, the governor asked residents to do everything possible to conserve energy. In Kentucky, state officials said people should be cautious as colder winter weather approaches.
Nearly 154 million people in the United States were under some type of winter weather alert on Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Wind chill warnings or advisories are in effect for some 68 million people. Icy roads, power outages, and dangerously low temperatures were making life miserable.
The cold air is so widespread that one could travel nearly 3,200 kilometers from the Rio Grande on the Mexican border to the St. Lawrence River on the Canadian border under winter storm warnings or alerts.
More than 5.1 million customers across the country were without power Monday afternoon due to the deadly storm system. At least 4.2 million blackouts were reported in Texas, where the blackouts began overnight.
Severe winter weather has prompted emergency declarations in at least seven states, including Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Military Department have deployed the National Guard to conduct welfare checks on residents, according to a news release from his office.
State officials are also sending resources to help local communities clear roads and assist health care personnel and power grid workers, the statement said.
Authorities have opened 135 hot spots across the state.
“Due to the severe weather and freezing temperatures in our state, many electric companies have not been able to generate power, either from coal, natural gas or wind power,” said Abbott.
The City of Galveston said that up to 95% of homes were without power Monday afternoon.
At least 15 storm-related deaths in the past week
At least 15 people have died in weather-related car accidents since cold temperatures took over the country. Nine were killed in three vehicle crashes in Texas on Thursday, one person was killed in a crash in Oklahoma on Sunday, and three people were killed in Kentucky, including two in separate traffic accidents Monday.
Tennessee authorities attributed two deaths Monday to the storm, but did not provide details.
On Monday, bad weather was widespread, with more than a third of the continental United States experiencing freezing temperatures.
The thermometer dropped to 5 degrees Fahrenheit in Dallas, 6 below zero in Oklahoma City and 32 below zero in Kansas City, Missouri, the most intense cold for those cities since 1989. There was snowfall in Brownsville, Texas, where measurable snow has been recorded. only twice since 1898.
Texas has endured the brunt of the cold weather. Officials in Harris County, the most populous county in the state, which includes Houston, warned its 4 million residents to stay indoors because the cold weather will last for a while.
“The safest place to be is at home, even if you lose power,” Francisco Sanchez, the county’s deputy emergency management coordinator, told Citizen Free Press affiliate KPRC Monday morning. ‘It’s going to get colder before it gets hot. These conditions will not improve until Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Please reduce energy use, says governor of Kansas
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly pleaded with residents Monday to save energy.
I cannot stress this point enough. We must all reduce our use of natural gas and electricity now to make sure we have enough available to overcome these freezing temperatures, “he said. “How we respond over the next 48 to 72 hours is critical.”
Kansas Corporation Commission Chairman Andrew French echoed Kelly’s sentiments, as many Kansans experienced their first series of continuous blackouts Monday afternoon.
‘We are on the verge of whether or not energy cuts are needed, so to the extent that people can be safely conserved, we would certainly encourage them to try to reduce their use of natural gas and electricity (for) the next 48 to 72 hours, which will be the critical period, “said French.
So Texas was covered in snow and ice
More bad weather in sight
“We are facing three winter storms in seven days,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said at a news conference Monday morning.
Kentucky is experiencing its second storm of three. More snow was expected later on Monday.
“We had what amounted to an intermission, actually, between the winter storms this weekend,” Gray said. “That allowed our road crews to get some rest and move forward in clearing fallen branches and trees, for example, and restocking our salt supplies.”
Governor Andy Beshear pleaded with residents to stay off the roads and to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. “Those are victims we don’t want to see. We did not manage to go through a pandemic for almost a year to lose people to snow or an ice storm.
No flights at various airports
Air traffic stopped at several airports.
Abiline airports in west-central Texas, George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports in Houston, Lafayette Regional and the Baton Rouge Metropolitan in Louisiana and Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International in Mississippi were closed Monday, the FAA said.
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and San Antonio International Airport said Monday morning there would be no more flights during the day. Later, airport officials announced that there would be no outbound or inbound flights at either airport on Tuesday.
About 3,900 flights to or from the US were canceled Monday morning, according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.com. Another 3,600 have been canceled by Tuesday.
Shelters and widespread power outages in Texas
Houston was quick to open hot spots for its homeless population.
Councilwoman Letitia Plummer told Citizen Free Press that an early line was formed for a venue inside the George R. Brown Convention Center.
“We are leading evictions across the country and because of that, our number of homeless people is increasing. These are people at the convention center who wouldn’t normally be there, “Plummer said, adding that people have” evicted themselves. ”
Plummer said the city has opened six additional hot spots, each with 50 to 60 homeless people, and that none of them are full at this time. The city is working to open more hot spots to ensure that no one in need is turned away, he said.
The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) tweeted that it began producing outages early Monday.
The council had previously asked consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use as much as possible through Tuesday.
Cold wave from coast to coast
Freezing temperatures are forecast to affect more than 245 million people in the lower 48 states over the next seven days, and more than 50 million Americans are expected to experience freezing temperatures.
There is a chance that more than 240 cold temperature records will be broken by Tuesday night, and some records have already been broken.
The heaviest snow in the east is expected to fall from the Mississippi Valley, through the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes. A total of 6-12 inches of snow is expected Tuesday night from Arkansas to upstate New York.
Oklahoma City has gone a record five days without going above 20 degrees Fahrenheit; They are not expected to rise above that temperature until Thursday, for a period of nine days.
“This cold snap is forecast to result in record low temperatures that are comparable to the historic cold waves of February 1899 and 1905,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Dangerous cold wind has been recorded in eastern Colorado and western Kansas, according to the National Weather Service in Pueblo, Colorado. Cold winds ranging from minus 42 degrees near Yuma, Colorado to minus 25 degrees near Norton, Kansas, were recorded Sunday night.
Along with the unusual and widespread cold, there are snow events that could also break records.
Seattle has already reported more than 11 inches of snow over the weekend, the most since January 1972, nearly 50 years ago. More than 50 inches of snow has fallen in parts of Wyoming in recent days.
Southern cities, including Dallas and Oklahoma City, have the potential to have the most snowfall in a decade, and between two blizzards this week, they have their snowiest weeks on record.
But not everywhere is cold. Miami hit a record heat index of 91 on Sunday.