An “unprecedented” winter storm continued its assault on the nation Monday, leaving millions without power in Texas and wreaking travel havoc across a wide swath of the central and southern U.S. due to the heavy snow and ice.
As of Monday morning, more than 150 million people were under a winter storm warning or winter weather advisory in 25 states, stretching over 2,000 miles from southern Texas to northern Maine, the National Weather Service said.
Bitter, record-smashing cold accompanied the storm across the central U.S. Hundreds of daily record low temperatures have been or will be broken during this prolonged “polar plunge,” the weather service said, “with some February and even all-time low temperature records in jeopardy.” More than 50 million people could see temperatures dip below zero during the next several days, according to the Capital Weather Gang.
Power outages were widespread Monday. In Texas alone, more than 2.5 million customers were in the dark as of 8 a.m. local time, according to poweroutage.us, a utility tracking site.
Rotating power outages were initiated by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, Monday morning, meaning thousands went without electricity for short periods as temperatures fell into the teens near Dallas and Houston.
“We urge Texans to put safety first,” the council tweeted as it urged residents to reduce electricity use. ERCOT manages the flow of electric power in the state.
Houston, where temperatures hit the 70s last Tuesday, saw readings in the teens Monday morning, prompting officials to advise residents to prepare for hazardous roads that could be similar to those experienced after a Category 5 hurricane.
In Texas, the storm could truly be a “once in a generation” type event when factoring in the brutally cold conditions, AccuWeather meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
Thundersnow was reported early Monday as far south as the Gulf Coast in Galveston, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, Weather.com reported.
Texas Gov. Greg 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.
In a statement Sunday night, President Joe Biden also declared an emergency in Texas and ordered federal assistance to aid state and local response efforts. The declaration allows the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide assistance, equipment and resources to those affected by the storm.
Though the snow should be winding down across Texas on Monday, heavy snow and
freezing rain are forecast to advance northeastward Monday from the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys to the Northeast, the weather service said. “A large swath of 6 to 12 inches of snow is forecast from the Ohio Valley and eastern Great Lakes to northern New England,” according to the weather service.
FlightAware reported upward of 2,700 canceled flights across the country for Monday and nearly 150 delays. Another 500 cancellations are predicted for Tuesday. George Bush International Airport in Houston closed Monday morning due to ice accumulation on runways.
Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest, hundreds of thousands of people remained without power after a weekend winter storm blanketed the region with ice and snow and made travel treacherous. Some 300,000 people were powerless in Oregon alone, poweroutage.us reported.
Unfortunately, a second winter storm that’s hitting the Northwest on Monday will bring more snow and ice to parts of the South, Midwest and East later this week, Weather.com said.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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