At least 11 people have died as an “unprecedented” winter storm continued to pummel much of the United States — while more than 4 million people have been left without power in Texas amid subfreezing temperatures.
In San Antonio, a 78-year-old man froze to death after falling on his front lawn and getting stuck in the frigid weather for two hours, KENS reported.
Also killed were a woman and a girl in Houston who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning when they sat in an attached garage while a car was running because there was no heat in their home, KHOU reported.
A man and a boy from the same family were hospitalized in the incident.
Many were left without heat as the mercury dropped to single digits and the Lone Star state’s electric grid suffered a catastrophic failure Monday due to the snow, ice and frigid temperatures, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) was also forced 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.
In addition, 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 percent of state power supplies, ERCOT estimates.
Jackie Sargent, the general manager for Austin Energy, said late Monday that based on information from ERCOT, the local power outages could last into Tuesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that the subfreezing temps would last “several days.”
“The ultra-low temperatures will last for several days, meaning that what becomes frozen will remain frozen for a long period of time,” Abbott said.
President Joe Biden has declared an emergency, unlocking federal assistance to Texas, where temperatures ranged from 28 to minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
Elsewhere, as many as seven other people have died as the “unprecedented” winter storm drove a “polar plunge” across the US — unleashing heavy snowfall and spawning icy tornadoes.
In Brunswick County, North Carolina, three people were killed, 10 others injured and several structured damaged when a tornado ripped through a residential community, officials said.
“It’s something unlike I have ever seen before. A lot of destruction. It’s going to be a long recovery process,” Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said early Tuesday, according to ABC 11.
Brunswick County Emergency Management reported that several people were trapped in their damaged homes.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the tornado that hit the south end of Brunswick County early this morning. Devastating damage to many homes, especially in the Ocean Ridge Plantation area,” the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page.
In Kentucky, Angel Johnson, 43, was killed when she was ejected from her vehicle after losing control due to ice and colliding with a truck, WSAZ reported.
Police reported black ice and hazardous road conditions in the area of Carter County.
“We did not make it through almost a year of a pandemic to lose people to a snow or ice storm,” Kentucky Gov. Andrew Beshear said, according to Agence France-Presse.
Meanwhile, an unidentified 50-year-old man was killed in LaFayette County, Louisiana, on Monday, when he slipped on ice and struck his head, according to WAFB.
The coroner’s office confirmed this was the first storm-related death in connection with wintry blast.
A 10-year-old Tennessee boy died after falling into a frozen pond, officials said. His 6-year-old sister, who also fell through the ice into the pond, was hospitalized in critical condition, CBS News reported.
The historic storm also hit other parts of the country, including Vermont, where firefighters rescued a young man from frigid waters after he fell through the ice, and Louisiana, where the cold caused a transformer to explode, ripping a fireball through power lines, according to the network.
The National Weather Service warned of an “unprecedented and expansive area of hazardous winter weather” from coast to coast, with more than 150 million Americans under winter weather advisories.
“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,” it said.
Weather-related emergencies also have been declared in Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi and Oregon, where more than 300,000 people were without power, according to AFP.
The National Weather Service said the Arctic blast will not subside until later this week.
There is another storm on the way on Wednesday, expected to bring more snow, ice and sleet from the Texas panhandle through Kentucky and up through Washingtonn, DC, to New York City, New Jersey and Boston.
“It’s not really going to warm up until at least Friday,” David Roth of the NWS Weather Prediction Center told AFP. “We’re not getting a break.”