A massive winter storm that continues to sweep across the southern state of Texas has left millions of residents without power and has killed 21 people as of today. Texas’ energy grid was overwhelmed by a demand surge, causing widespread blackouts around the state.
Millions of the state’s residents are currently struggling to deal with the insanely low temperatures and lack of power, especially since the state so rarely deals with temperatures this low. Experts say that this extreme weather will continue throughout the weekend.
Deaths connected with the storm have since been recorded in a few states, including Texas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, and North Carolina. More than 150 million Americans, according to the National Weather Service, are currently under winter storm warnings.
More than 73% of the United States was covered by snow as of Tuesday. The storm has since reached both the Northern and Central parts of Mexico, instigating power outages throughout the regions.
“I’m in Houston, Texas freezing to death,” one Twitter user, Chris Prince, wrote. “No power, no heat, no water. I have four young children. How is this happening right now?”
Josh Morgerman, another Twitter user, noted that his friend in Texas had to burn furniture in his fireplace to retain warmth. Sadly, the Texas power outage is just barely starting.
Scientists believe that the link between these unlikely storms and climate change is obvious, especially considering the number of severe weather events happening around the world, including heatwaves, floods, and hurricanes.
A Disaster for Public Health
The deaths recorded for the state include those that have died in traffic accidents, as well as those who died due to carbon monoxide poisoning after running their cars and trying to remain warm. One Houston medical official said that “this is an absolute public health disaster.”
He also stated, “carbon monoxide poisoning certainly happens when it gets cold, but never in these numbers.”
During this cold snap, one county said that they had seen well over 300 suspected cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. Four people were killed in a recent house fire in Houston, which officials say may have been due to lit candles.
Two men were also found by police alongside a highway in Houston, both of whom were said to have died due to hypothermia. Meanwhile, a tornado in North Carolina spawned by the very same storm has left ten injured and three dead.
The storm has also shut down COVID-19 vaccination centers, hindering vaccination delivery. Some of the centers had to hurry and use vaccines that they could no longer refrigerate.
How Cold Is Texas Right Now?
The Texas power outage is in the midst of one of the biggest cold spells that it has had in 30 years. Some regions of the state hit 0 degrees Fahrenheit this past Sunday, which forced President Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency.
Greg Abbott, Texas governor, said that the situation was “unacceptable” and that he would call for an investigation into Ercot, the Electric Reliability Council in Texas.
“This was a total failure,” he told ABC News. “They showed that they were not reliable.”