The low-pressure system has had a fatal impact: At least 15 people have died in weather-related vehicle accidents since the cold temperatures hit. In Oklahoma alone, 123 people were hospitalized Monday with weather-related injuries.
As snow blankets typically temperate states like Texas and Oklahoma and power outages cause misery in Louisiana, about 200 million people remain under some sort of weather-related alarm.
The storm is expected to move out through the northeast late Tuesday, leaving a trail of heavy snow and ice on its way, CNN meteorologist Tyler Mauldin said.
Temperatures are expected to rise as it moves, though record-breaking mornings and afternoons will linger through Saturday, Mauldin said. Millions stiffen to temperatures that feel below zero through late in the week.
But when the low-pressure system leaves states like Texas and Oklahoma, a system that has poured cold rain on the west coast is expected to take its place with more wintry evil, Maudlin said.
“I’m almost certain we’re slowly seeing one of the first billion dollar weather disasters of 2021 unfold,” Mauldin said.
As many as 200 more cold temperature records could be broken
The unusually cold temperatures are expected to have reached almost every corner of the United States.
Seattle has already reported more than 11 inches of snow over the weekend, the most since January 1972. More than 50 inches of snow has fallen in parts of Wyoming in the past few days.
More than 6 inches of snow has fallen from East Texas to Ohio, where some areas take more than a foot. Heavy snow could reach areas downstream with Lake Erie and Ontario as the system leaves New England by Tuesday night.
At that time, there is potential for nearly 200 more cold temperature records to be broken.
Oklahoma City has gone a record five days without climbing above 20 degrees – they are not expected to exceed this temperature until Thursday for a stretch of nine days.
Power and water outage
Falling temperatures have frozen or overworked power sources, leaving nearly 5 million people in the dark from early Tuesday morning.
Although there are no planned power outages in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards said they could happen if electricity production is unable to keep up with demand. Edwards said this will be the coldest weather Louisiana has experienced in decades, and that about 125,000 households have lost power, some for over 12 hours.
In Abilene, Texas, the approximately 123,000 inhabitants are also without water due to power outages. All three water treatment plants in the city had to be shut down when both of their power sources went out, according to a statement from the city of Abilene.
“It is not known exactly when electricity and subsequent water service will be returned to Abilene water customers,” the city said.
Along with power, winter storms have slowed Covid-19 vaccinations across the United States.
San Antonio, Texas, has postponed vaccinations Tuesday at the Alamodome for the second day in a row. Elsewhere in the state, Harris County, Texas, officials ran to dispense and rescue 8,400 coronavirus vaccines that were in danger of being destroyed after the generator and backup generator failed Monday morning.
“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions are also likely to delay some vaccinations, ”Parson said. “We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events.”
‘Roads are being covered faster than we can clear them’
While waiting for the power to come back, many officials have warned residents that now is not the time to be on the move.
Since Sunday, the Mississippi Highway Patrol said it has investigated more than 400 weather-related traffic incidents.
All but eight counties in the state have reported ice on roads and bridges, according to a tweet from the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
“Heavy snowfall combined with snow means roads are being covered faster than we can get them cleared,” the department tweeted.
Texas among the hardest hit states
Texas, a state not accustomed to the amount of snow it has seen, has suffered some of the worst consequences of the storm.
According to Poweroutages.US, more than 4.1 million customers are without power, and everyday life has been severely affected by cold and interruptions.
“Even during Hurricane Harvey, our plant never lost power and we never stopped producing the printed version, but each weather event brings its own twists and turns,” the newspaper wrote.
The cold even cut off the mobile service in Fort Bend County Monday night, Fort Bend County Judge KP George wrote on his verified Twitter account.
For Jamie Taylor, a mother of five in Dallas, it meant more than an 18-hour power outage to take care of her family in 45-degree temperatures inside her condo.
CNN’s Kay Jones, Joe Sutton, Rebekah Riess, Dave Alsup and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.
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