Power restored to many in Texas, but freezing temperatures remain

Rodiano Bonacci
Febbraio 19, 2021

Power was restored to more homes and businesses Thursday in states hit by a deadly blast of winter that overwhelmed the electrical grid and left millions shivering in the cold this week.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said a "major" winter storm would impact an area stretching from Virginia up to the Northeast, bringing icy buildups and "treacherous" travel conditions.

The National Weather Service said the storm was moving across several states on a 2,300-kilometer (1,430-mile) track to the Northeast, with 38 centimeters (15 inches) of snow on the ground in the state of Arkansas, which is northeast of Texas, heavy snow and ice farther north through the Appalachian Mountains and up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) of snow predicted Thursday and Friday in the NY metropolitan region.

It said an Arctic air mass was beginning to lose its grip on an area of the country not used to such extreme cold but the frigid temperatures were expected to continue.

"Temperatures will still remain 20 to 35 degrees (Fahrenheit) below normal throughout the Plains, Mississippi Valley, and lower Great Lakes", the NWS said.

Many power plants have suffered interruptions.

In Harris County, which includes Houston, more than 1 million people have been affected by local water systems that have either issued notices to boil water so it is safe to drink or that can not deliver water at all, said a spokesperson for the county emergency management agency.

"We don't have any water", Houston resident Paula Recio stated.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he expects that residents in the nation's fourth-largest city will have to boil tap water before drinking it until Sunday or Monday.

David Hernandez, 38, spent the night at a Houston church with other people who have fled their homes.

"My auto got stranded and I was trying to sleep in the vehicle but it was just too cold", Hernandez said.

"Liquids in my auto were actually turning to ice so it was like sleeping in an ice box. I had to come here", he said. But staying home carried risks too in places without power. "We couldn't cook so that's why we came up here".

Utilities from Minnesota to Texas have implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on strained power grids.

Some 325,000 households still do not have power, down from 2.7 million on Wednesday, and more than 13 million Texans are seeing interruptions in their water services.

"We are nearing a failed state in Texas and it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters", O'Rourke told MSNBC on Tuesday evening.

"Folks have gone days now without electricity".

"The CDC and federal partners are working closely with the jurisdictions, as well as manufacturing and shipping partners, to assess weather conditions, and to help mitigate potential delivery delays and cancellations", Psaki said at a White House briefing. "Go up north and see how they do it", Rios said, acknowledging the state will have to pay to winterize its power and energy infrastructure.

Texas authorities have opened about 300 emergency 'warming centres across the state.

Woodfin warned that rotating outages could return if electricity demand rises as people get power and heating back, though they wouldn't last as long as outages earlier this week.

The damage to the power system was the worst in 40 years, said Maria Pope, CEO of Portland General Electric.

While electricity companies struggle to get power restored, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport resumed flights on Wednesday after a two-day hiatus caused by heavy snowfall.

"What we're encouraging governors and other partners to do is to extend hours once they're able to reopen".

More than 30 storm-related deaths have been reported by USA media since the cold weather arrived last week, many in traffic accidents.

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