At least nine people have died in the most brutal winter storm to sweep the United States in decades which has caused rolling power outages in Texas and brought icy tornadoes to the Southwest.
One person was killed in Kentucky when they lost control of their semi truck along the I-64 and collided with a guard rail, police said. The victim, 43-year-old grandmother Angel Johnson, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected out of the vehicle.
In Louisiana, a 50-year-old man died in Lafayette Parish after slipping and falling on an ice-covered sidewalk and striking his head.
Two people have also died in Texas from suspected cold exposure, including a 78-year-old man who fell in his front lawn and was stranded outside in the cold for several hours, and a 60-year-old homeless man in Houston who refused shelter and was later found dead at an overpass in east Harris County.
The youngest of the victims was claimed in Tennessee, after a 10-year-old boy tragically fell into a frozen pond and drowned, officials said. The boy’s sister, six, also fell through the ice and is currently in the hospital in critical condition.
Winter storm Uri has sent temperatures plummeting across the Great Plains, causing widespread flight cancellations and closures of businesses, with some 200 million on weather alert across the country.
In Texas, wind turbines – which account for a fifth of the state’s energy – have frozen solid and contributed to the state’s power woes with temperatures plummeting to a bitter -20F.
More than 4 million people in the Lone Star State were without power last night and many residents took desperate refuge in their cars for warmth as their homes turned to ice blocks.
President Joe Biden also declared an emergency in Texas in a statement Sunday night. The declaration is intended to add federal aid to state and local response efforts.
In Georgia and Florida, several homes and structures were damaged and at least four people were hurt, following a series of tornadoes that touched down across Monday afternoon.
MISSOURI: Snowplows form a gangplow to clear the snow on Highway 270 in Des Peres, Missouri on Monday. St. Louis received about eight inches of snow as temperatures remained around zero for the day, with real feel temperatures about 16 degrees below zero
TENNESSEE: A 10-year-old boy in Tennessee tragically died after falling into a frozen pond (above) and drowning. His sister, 6, is currently in critical condition, after also falling in
OREGON: Heavy snowfall caused a partial roof collapse at a Safeway supermarket in Troutdale, on SW Cherry Park Rd. There were no reported injuries
FLORIDA: In Georgia and Florida, several homes and structures were damaged and at least four people were hurt, following a series of tornadoes that touched down across Monday afternoon (Park City, shown above)
MISSOURI: A man uses a snow shovel as he attempts to clear his big rig, stuck in snow in downtown St. Louis during a snow storm on Monday
TEXAS: People try to free their cars from the snow in Waco on Monday after record snowfall blanketed the state and caused rolling blackouts
KANSAS: A man clears snow from a driveway in Prairie Village where temperatures are expected to drop to -9 degrees
A map from poweroutage.us showed that nearly 5 million people were without power in Texas, and several hundred thousand in Louisiana and Oregon
As nightfall threatened to plummet temperatures again into single digits in Texas, officials warned that homes in the state still without power would likely not have heat until at least Tuesday.
‘Things will likely get worse before they get better,’ said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in the county of nearly 5 million people around Houston.
One person was killed in Kentucky when they lost control of their semi truck along the I-64 and collided with a guard rail, police said. The victim, 43-year-old Angel Johnson (above), was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected out of the vehicle
The toll of the worsening conditions included the delivery of new COVID-19 vaccine shipments, which were expected to be delayed until at least midweek. Massive power outages across Houston included a facility storing 8,000 doses of Moderna vaccine, leaving health officials scrambling to find takers at the same time authorities were pleading for people to stay home.
Temperatures nosedived into the single-digits as far south as San Antonio, and homes that had already been without electricity for hours had no certainty about when the lights and heat would come back on, as the state’s overwhelmed power grid began imposing blackouts that are typically only seen in 100-degree Fahrenheit
‘We’re living through a really historic event going on right now,’ said Jason Furtado, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, pointing to all of Texas under a winter storm warning and the extent of the freezing temperatures.
State officials said surging demand, driven by people trying to keep their homes warm, and cold weather knocking some power stations offline had pushed Texas’ system beyond the limits.
‘This weather event, it’s really unprecedented. We all living here know that,’ said Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. He defended preparations made by grid operators and described the demand on the system as record-setting.
‘This event was well beyond the design parameters for a typical, or even an extreme, Texas winter that you would normally plan for. And so that is really the result that we’re seeing,’ Woodfin said.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) sought to cut power use in response to a winter record of 69,150 megawatts on Sunday evening, more than 3,200 MW higher than the previous winter peak in January 2018.
About 10,500 MW of customer load was shed at the highest point, enough power to serve approximately 2 million homes, it said, adding that extreme weather caused many generating units across fuel types to trip offline and become unavailable.
‘Controlled outages will continue through today and into early tomorrow, possibly all of tomorrow,’ Dan Woodfin, director of systems operations at ERCOT, told a briefing.
The storms knocked out nearly half the state’s wind power generation capacity on Sunday. Wind generation ranks as the second-largest source of electricity in Texas, accounting for 23% of state power supplies, ERCOT estimates.
Of the 25,000-plus MW of wind power capacity normally available in Texas, 12,000 MW were out of service on Sunday morning, an ERCOT spokeswoman said.
An emergency notice issued by the regulator urged customers to limit power usage and prevent an uncontrolled system-wide outage.
The spot price of electricity on the Texas power grid spiked more than 10,000% on Monday.
Due to the extreme cold across the region where it operates, Arkansas-based Southwest Power Pool said it had directed member utilities to implement rolling blackouts.
WASHINGTON: A woman clears snow from her driveway in Spokane on Monday as she tries to get to a morning appointment on time
TEXAS: 4.38 million people in the Lone Star State are currently without power as of Monday night (pictured: In order to save electricity, the promenade lights and screens are turned off in front of American Airlines Center which was to host the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars NHL hockey game)
TEXAS: Treacherous driving conditions brought on by the storm have left roadways largely deserted outside Dallas
MISSISSIPPI: A sign warns motorists after a sudden heavy bout of snow and frozen rain on MS Highway 463 in Madison, north of Jackson
KENTUCKY: Snow falls at the United Parcel Service (UPS) WorldPort hub located at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport in Louisville
TEXAS: State officials said surging demand, driven by people trying to keep their homes warm, and cold weather knocking some power stations offline had pushed Texas’ system beyond the limits
TEXAS: As nightfall threatened to plummet temperatures again into single digits, officials warned that homes still without power would likely not have heat until at least Tuesday
TEXAS: A rare winter snowfall measuring at least half a foot hit central Texas as the State Capitol and Congress Avenue becomes nearly impassable
INDIANA: Snow also began falling in South Bend, Indiana on Monday night as Storm Uri raged on
‘In our history as a grid operator, this is an unprecedented event and it marks the first time SPP has ever had to call for controlled interruptions of service,’ Executive Vice President Lanny Nickell said in a statement.
In Dallas, officials told residents to refrain from calling 911 to report power outages as the 911 call center became overwhelmed with power outage calls.
Elsewhere, frozen roads in Austin caused an 18-wheeler to careen out of control. A man nearly lost his life, jumping out of the way just seconds before a car lost control and crashed into a police cruiser, according to CBS.
A half-dozen Houston residents are being treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after using a charcoal grill to warm their home, officials said.
Cy-Fair Fire Department revealed six people were transported to the hospital after using the grill for approximately four hours. Two were said to be in critical condition. Four children, between the ages of five and 10, were among those hospitalized.
‘Please remember to never run a generator or grill inside your home,’ the department tweeted. ‘These produce carbon monoxide, which is a deadly, colorless and odorless gas.’
TEXAS: Ice and snow blanket parts of a Grandview Avenue and Charles Walker Road on Monday in Odessa
TEXAS: Daniel Del Rio, left, and Robert Barrientos try to fix their 18-wheeler that broke down on Interstate 10 eastbound due to the cold weather in Houston
OKLAHOMA: James Derrick, who is homeless, peeks out of his tent during record breaking cold weather in Oklahoma City
TEXAS: A man shovels snow from under a car stuck on a hill in Austin on Monday morning with the help of friends
KENTUCKY: Plows clear snow and ice from Interstate 64 during a winter storm in Louisville, amid the dangerous storm
TENNESSEE: Peyton McKinney uses a laundry basket for a sled as she enjoyed the uncharacteristically snow condition on Monday
KENTUCKY: Louisville is seen in the distance as ice coats a sidewalk along the Ohio River
MISSOURI: A man crosses a street as temperatures drop below 0 degrees Fahrenheit Monday, in downtown Kansas City
TEXAS: Dan Bryant and his wife Anna huddle by the fire with sons Benny, 3, and Sam, 12 weeks, along with their dog Joey, also wearing two doggie sweaters, with power out and temperatures dropping inside their home after a winter storm brought snow and freezing temperatures to North Texas
MISSOURI: Valentine’s hearts remain taped to a fence in Lafayette Park from Sunday during the storm on Monday after St Louis received around eight inches of snow
The historic storm has caused a series of problems across the country.
In Vermont, firefighters scrambled to recuse a young man from frigid waters after he fell through the ice.
A 60-year-old homeless man in Houston who refused shelter and was later found dead at an overpass in east Harris County
Roads in Tennessee roads were remarked to have turned into ‘ice rinks’ after frozen precipitation fell, causing a series of accidents across the state.
Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, temperatures in part of the state dipped below 20 degrees for five days straight for only the third time ever. With another storm moving in, crews worked frantically to clear snow from the roads.
In Louisiana, the cold caused a transformer to blow, ripping a fireball through power lines.
Severe weather fueled by Storm Uri also damaged homes and other structures in Georgia and Florida, leaving at least four people hurt.
An ‘extremely dangerous’ tornado touched down in Georgia in Damascus on Monday afternoon, a small community in the southwest corner of the state.
Early County Fire Department Capt. Bobby Wimberly said initial reports from units that responded indicated one person was injured and several homes destroyed.
‘We don’t know the full details yet, they’re still on scene,’ Wimberly told Weather.com at 5:30pm ET.
Tornadoes also struck in Tallahassee and Panama City, where damage was reported at a park and at a resort. Officials said three people were transported to hospital after ceiling tiles fell at the Boardwalk Condo, amid the high winds.
Another tornado also caused minor damage in Lake City, located in north Florida.
TEXAS: The Trinity River in Fort Worth is mostly frozen after a snow storm Monday that saw millions lose power
TEXAS: The game lights and center screens are turned off at American Airlines Center which was to host the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars NHL hockey game
OHIO: A woman crosses Wooster Street as snow falls Monday night in Downtown Bowling Green
MISSOURI: A man operates a small plow on a sidewalk of the normally busy Market Street in downtown St Louis
TEXAS: A snow-covered Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge leads to downtown after a heavy snow on Monday
TEXAS: Alyssa Remi, 12, slides down a snow covered hill Monday in Houston as many made the most of the snowfall
MISSOURI: Pedestrians cross Market Street during a snow storm in downtown St. Louis on Monday
TENNESSEE: An SUV is seen driving its way down an unplowed road on Monday during low visibility, amid heavy snowfall
TEXAS: Baylor University students enjoy their snow day without classes while posing near a fountain on campus
INDIANA: The courthouse in South Bend is seen above as snow began falling on Monday night
TEXAS: Icicles form on a citrus tree from a sprinkler system used to protect the trees from the freezing temperatures on Monday, in Edinburgh
TEXAS: A man snowboards down Congress Avenue after a heavy snow on Monday
IDAHO: Amy Shoemaker, of Lewiston, Idaho, walks alongside her youngest daughter Vera Shoemaker, 3, and pulls her older daughter, Ella Shoemaker, 6, in a sled as they eat popsicles while passing by the Normal Hill Cemetery, in Lewistone
MISSOURI: Icicles hang from Jeffery Hemmer’s beard as he walks the 26th mile of his 40 mile rucking journey near his home in Fairview
TEXAS: Baylor University students sitting on a wood pallet are pulled by a car Monday in Waco
TEXAS: A driver pours water on the roof of his icy car on the side of Grandview Avenue and Charles Walker Road
TEXAS: Homes in the Westbury neighborhood are covered in snow in Houston, Texas, on Monday
The National Weather Service (NWS) said that ‘over 150 million Americans are currently under winter storm warnings, ice storm warnings, winter storm watches, or winter weather advisories as impactful winter weather continues from coast to coast’.
‘This impressive onslaught of wicked wintry weather across much of the Lower 48 (states) is due to the combination of strong Arctic high pressure supplying sub-freezing temperatures and an active storm track escorting waves of precipitation,’ the NWS added.
Besides Texas, weather-related emergencies have also been declared in Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky and Mississippi. The NWS said record low temperatures were expected in much of the country.
‘Hundreds of daily low maximum and minimum temperatures have been/will be broken during this prolonged ‘polar plunge,’ with some February and even all-time low temperature records in jeopardy,’ the NWS said.
TEXAS: State officials said surging demand, driven by people trying to keep their homes warm, and cold weather knocking some power stations offline had pushed Texas’ system beyond the limits
OHIO: Jeremy Seidt, 44, packs snow that he shoveled off his driveway into an empty cat litter bucket as he works on making an igloo in the front yard of his Sharon Township home in Columbus
MISSOURI: Snow plows clear a street as temperatures drop below 0 degrees Fahrenheit Monday in Kansas City
MISSOURI: People clear snow off of cars on Monday in St Louis, Missouri, where the storm brought snow and brutally cold temperatures
OKLAHOMA: While en route to another call, the Oklahoma National Guard came across a single vehicle accident where a man and his dog collided with a barrier
OKLAHOMA: Volunteer Salvador Cariaga checks on a man suffering from homelessness who has been sleeping on the ground under blankets during record breaking cold weather in Oklahoma City
OKLAHOMA: Snow blows around grass in Scissortail Park, in Oklahoma City, after a morning flurry
TENNESSEE: Two boys ride a sled in Nolensville on Monday afternoon after Storm Uri brought freezing rain, snow and sleet to the area
In Texas, rotating power outages were initiated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) early Monday morning, meaning hundreds of thousands went without electricity for short periods as temperatures fell into the teens near Dallas and 20s around Houston.
‘We urge Texans to put safety first,’ ERCOT tweeted as it urged residents to reduce electricity use. The council manages the flow of electric power in the state. ‘Traffic lights and other infrastructure may be temporarily without power,’ the council said.
The council described the rotating outages as a ‘last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole,’ adding that utility transmission companies are tasked with determining how to reduce demand on the system.
‘Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now,’ ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said in a statement.
Around 5,000 Oklahoma Gas & Electric customers were without power overnight, and Entergy Arkansas logged about 3,000 outages. Both states have much smaller populations compared with Texas.
Officials in Houston had warned people to prepare for outages and hazardous roads – conditions similar to what residents might see in the wake of a Category 5 hurricane.
‘There (have) been numerous reports of accidents from icing recently,’ National Weather Service (NWS) lead forecaster Bob Oravec said Monday. ‘I think there’s going to be a big threat today as the system pushes northeastward.’
More than 150 million people are still under winter weather advisories (depicted above)
Forecasters expect parts of Texas and Tennessee to get between 8 to 12 inches of snow through Tuesday
Snow and ice is expected to arrive in several southern states by Tuesday night and into Wednesday night
TENNESSEE: Accumulating ice between a tenth and a quarter of an inch was possible across eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, central Tennessee, Kentucky and over into the West Virginia and Ohio border region, forecasters said. A truck was seen sliding sideways on a road covered in ice in Tennessee
Houston has opened up more warming facilities for its city’s homeless population. The city opened up one facility at the GRB Convention Center Sunday afternoon and now have more than 450 homeless sheltering there.
Officials said Monday that they still have the capacity for an additional 100 people. Each person entering the facility is being screened for COVID-19.
By midmorning, 3,000 flights had been canceled across the country, about 1,600 of them at Dallas/Fort Worth International and Bush Intercontinental airports in Texas.
At DFW, the temperature was 4F, about 3 degrees colder than Moscow. Accumulating ice between a tenth and a quarter of an inch was possible across eastern Louisiana, Mississippi, central Tennessee, Kentucky and over into the West Virginia and Ohio border region, Oravec said.
Officials said Bush Intercontinental Airport runways will remain closed until at least 1pm on Tuesday, as the region remains under the grip of subfreezing temperatures.
The largest grocery store chain in Texas, H-E-B, also closed locations around Austin and San Antonio, cities that are unaccustomed to snow and have little resources to clear roads. The slow thaw and more frigid lows ahead was also taking a toll on Texas’ distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
State health officials said Texas, which was due to receive more than 400,000 additional vaccine doses this week, now does not expect deliveries to occur until at least Wednesday.
This satellite image shows the storm moving over parts of the southern US and Midwest on Monday morning
Temperatures have plummeted in several parts of the US, particularly in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri
Several cities in the U.S. saw record lows as Arctic air remained over the central part of the country.
In Minnesota, the Hibbing/Chisholm weather station registered -38F, while Sioux Falls, South Dakota, dropped to -26F.
In Kansas, where wind chills dropped to as low as -30F in some areas, Gov. Laura Kelly declared a state of disaster.
Most government offices and schools were closed for Presidents Day, and authorities pleaded with residents to stay home. Louisiana State Police reported that it had investigated nearly 75 weather-related crashes caused by a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain in the past 24 hours.
‘We already have some accidents on our roadways,’ Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said during a morning news conference. ‘It is slick and it is dangerous.’
The storm arrived over a three-day holiday weekend that has seen the most U.S. air travel since the period around New Year’s.
More than 1 million people went through airport security checkpoints on Thursday and Friday. However, that was still less than half the traffic of a year ago, before the pandemic hit with full force.
The southern Plains had been gearing up for the winter weather for the better part of the weekend.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for all of the state´s 254 counties. Abbott, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson each activated National Guard units to assist state agencies with tasks including rescuing stranded drivers.