Millions of people in the United States were without power early Tuesday after a deadly winter storm bulldozed across the southern and central parts of the country in places where such dangerously cool conditions tend to arrive once in a generation.
The massive storm was expected to bring snow, sleet and freezing rain to the northeast, while the central part of the country spanned several days with record low temperatures and continued power outages.
According to more than four million customers across the country, there was no electricity early Tuesday PowerOutage.us, which collects live power data from utilities across the country. Most of the outages were in Texas, where power was cut off Sunday and Monday due to storm damage or by rotating outages ordered by regulators. Many of the outages were relatively short and lasted between 15 and 45 minutes, but some customers lost power for hours and remained unsure when it would be turned on again.
The National Weather Service warned that millions of Americans from coast to coast would remain under some kind of weather-related warning or advice. Here are the forecasts for Tuesday for different parts of the country:
Freezing rain overnight in the New York City area was expected to turn to rain. And warning of ice storm was in effect in parts of New York State and New Jersey until the morning with expected accumulations of up to two-tenths of an inch, the National Weather Service said. Ice-cold conditions throughout the region can cause power outages and create dangerous travel conditions for morning commuters.
An ice storm warning was also valid through 6 p.m. 7 on parts of western Pennsylvania, said the weather service. Freezing rain with ice accumulation about a quarter of an inch was expected.
When the weather system reached the north, a winter storm warning was in effect to Vermont and northern New York. The storm was expected to bring up to 10 inches of snow, sleet and freezing rain to these areas.
Midwest and Texas
A new storm is expected to develop Tuesday and bring up to four inches of snow over parts of Oklahoma, Missouri and the Ohio Valley, according to Weather Service. Northern parts of Arkansas are expected to receive about 12 inches of snow.
In Texas, freezing rain was expected across the state with ice accumulations of up to half an inch.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said Monday that the state had deployed “maximum resources” to respond to the harsh weather and restore power to society. Among those resources were National Guard troops called in to conduct welfare checks and help those in need move to one of the state’s 135 warm-up centers.
Various winter storm warnings and advice were in place for parts of the West on Tuesday.
Areas of Washington state are expected to receive heavy snow with accumulations reaching up to 25 inches. ONE winter storm warning was in effect most of the day.
Snow totals for the Central and Southern Rockies can range from eight to 12 inches, with one to two feet possible above the highest peaks Tuesday, the Weather Service said.
In Oregon, where a weather forecast was in effect until noon and additional snow accumulations could reach 7 inches, at least 200,000 customers were without power Tuesday morning. “Utilities of utilities are more prevalent in the region than ever before, including during forest fires in September 2020,” Gov. Kate Brown said on Twitterand noted that on Saturday she had declared a state of emergency to mobilize aid.
It was colder over large parts of Texas on Monday than it was in Maine.
Houston hit a record low for a February 15 of 17 degrees, beating the previous record of 18 degrees set in 1905. In Austin, it was only 8 degrees, breaking the previous record of 20 degrees set in 1909. Records for the date also fell in San Antonio (9 degrees) and Dallas (7 degrees).
And the cool explosion shows no sign of giving up. The National Weather Service warned that Arctic air and dangerous wind chills would remain over the central United States this week, breaking even more records.
The brutal cold, especially in the south, has prompted officials to urge residents to stay home and avoid icy roads. Texas officials, concerned about millions who have lost power, have opened hotspots and deployed National Guard troops to control residents.
In the Houston area alone, about a million people were without power Monday night, which was expected to be the coldest night in 30 years with temperatures dropping to 10 degrees.
“To those who have lost power, I know you’re frustrated, I know you’re miserable, I know you’re uncomfortable,” said Lina Hidalgo, chief executive officer of Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston, to residents Monday.
Still, Mrs Hidalgo said it was not possible to predict when the power might be restored.
“And in fact, as much as we wish it wasn’t, things are likely to get worse before they get better,” she said. “There is a good chance that the power will be out for these people until the weather gets better, which will not be for a few days.”
Houston emergency management staff offered tips to help residents stay warm, even without power. They suggested using tape, blankets and towels to cover windows and block doorways with towels to stop icy drafts.
Houston firefighters said they had responded to an increase in carbon monoxide poisoning as residents turned to generators and space heaters to stay warm. They urged residents to make sure they had installed carbon monoxide detectors.
The bitter cold has broken records that had stood for decades, from the Canadian border to the Gulf Coast. In Hibbing, Minn., On Monday, temperatures dropped to minus 38 degrees, beating the previous record of minus 32 set in 1939.
In North Platte, Neb., It was minus 29 and fell below the previous record of minus 23 set more than a century ago, in 1881. In Oklahoma City, it was minus 6, also a record.
“I’m very happy that it looks like the people of Oklahoma City are pretty much staying at home,” said the city’s mayor, David Holt. “It simply came to our notice then. And we continue to make that request. It’s probably the best choice. ”
Monday’s storm was known for its enormous range and for a particularly dangerous element it carried almost everywhere: ice. It left a treacherous varnish on roads across a middle section of the country, including places where driving on ice is a rarity.
It was also such a confusing storm as it punished. Snow covered the Gulf of Mexico beaches and people walked icing on the roads of southern Louisiana. Alabama was warned of brutal ice storms in some places and of possible tornado eruptions elsewhere. Temperatures were lower in Austin, Texas, than in Anchorage, Alaska.
“It’s snowing in Houston and it’s raining in Pennsylvania,” said Charles Ross, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service at State College, Pa. “When does it ever happen?”
Texas was covered by one of its largest snowfalls recorded, battling hundreds of thousands of power outages, flight cancellations and urgent warnings from government officials and emergency supervisors to be put in place and reduce electricity consumption. The 8 degrees recorded in Austin were the lowest in 32 years, forecasters said, and the 6.4 inches of snow dumped over the city overnight were reported to be the deepest in 55 years.
Across the country, at least 11 people have died since the storm intensified in the middle of last week; 10 have been killed in car accidents on the roads of Kentucky and Texas, including a congestion in Fort Worth attributed to slippery roads that involved more than 100 vehicles and killed six people. And San Antonio authorities said the weather conditions contributed to the death of a 78-year-old man.
The brutal cold in the middle of the country seemed to defy a trend of increasingly milder winters, but research suggests that cool temperatures in Texas may be a consequence of global warming, a phenomenon that has prompted climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe to use the phrase “Global scary . “
There is research that suggests that Arctic warming weakens the jet stream, the high air flow that circles the northern latitudes and usually holds back the cool polar vortex. This allows the cold air to escape to the south, especially when an explosion of additional heating hits the stratosphere and deforms the vortex. The result can be episodes of deep temperatures, even in places that are rarely nipped by frost.
“Stay at home, for love of goodness” said the Tennessee Highway Patrol on Twitter Monday afternoon. “It’s very bad out here !!!! Another injury accident. The roads are white !!!! ”
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