A straggling blast of winter weather across America is likely to blame for the killing of two people in Texas, where an unusually snowy emergency Monday knocked out power for more than four million people, shut down grocery stores and air travel, and closed schools ahead of frigid days still to come.
As nightfall threatened to drop temperatures again into single digits, officials warned that homes still without power would likely not have heat until at least Tuesday, as frustration mounted and the state’s electric grid came under growing demand and criticism.
Home in Texas with no power, no heat, no water. Town is shut down – solar backups here covered in ice. Vapo Propane one of the only places open and the lines are long…
— Lara Logan (@laralogan) February 16, 2021
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top elected official in the county of nearly 5 million people around Houston, said that things would likely get worse before they get better.
Texas Law enforcement reported two men were found dead along Houston-area roadways. The death-causes were pending; however, officials stated the subfreezing temperatures were likely to blame.
Vaccine Storage in Houston lost Power
After a facility storing 8000 doses of the Moderna vaccine in Houston lost power, health officials hurriedly worked, scrambling to find takers simultaneously authorities were pleading for people to stay home. The toll of the worsening conditions included the delivery of new coronavirus vaccine deliveries, which were expected to be delayed until midweek.
Jason Furtado, a meteorology professor at the Oklahoma University, pointing to all of Texas under a winter storm warning, said they are living through a historical event going on right then.
The City does not control the Texas Power Grid. We do not oversee ERCOT which manages and serves as the traffic cop for the electric grid. That is the Governor and the State of Texas. I know people are angry and frustrated. So am I. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) February 16, 2021
A senior director of system operations at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Dan Woodfin, said that this weather event is unusual. They all living there know the fact. Dan Woodfin defended arrangements made by grid workers and described the demand on the system as record-setting.
H-E-B, the largest grocery store chain in Texas, closed several locations
The major grocery store chain in Texas, H-E-B, closed its locations around San Antonio and Austin. These cities are unfamiliar with snow and have limited resources to clear roads. The slow defrosting and more freezing lows ahead were also taking a toll on Texas’ distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
Air travel also gets affected. By midmorning, almost 3000 flights were canceled across the country. About 1600 of them were at Bush Intercontinental and Dallas/Fort Worth International airports in Texas. At DFW, the temperature was -15°C, 3 degrees Fahrenheit (-16°C) colder than Moscow, Russia. Over 100 flights in and out of Chicago also canceled on Tuesday after the region received more snow.
Officials said that Bush Intercontinental Airport runways would remain closed until at least 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Monday morning ❄️ pic.twitter.com/fBFbKLfYBR
— Houston Bush Airport (@iah) February 15, 2021
Texas health representatives said Texas, which was due to receive more than 0.4 million additional vaccine shots this week, now doesn’t expect deliveries until Wednesday.
The weather also put the current COVID-19 vaccine supply in threat. On Monday, Rice University abruptly started offering vaccines on its closed Houston campus after Harris Health System told the school it had about 1000 vaccines that were going to go to waste.
Several cities in America saw record lows as Arctic air remained over the central part of the country. In Minnesota, the Hibbing/Chisholm weather station registered -38 degrees Fahrenheit ( -39°C). While Sioux Falls, South Dakota temperatures dropped to -26 Fahrenheit (minus 26°C).
U.S. President Joe Biden also declared an emergency in Texas in a statement released Sunday night. The declaration is planned to add federal aid to state and local response efforts.