Freezing weather conditions killed at least 11 people in the United States and left more than 4 million were without power in the state of Texas after a rare deep freeze forced the state’s electric grid operator to impose rotating blackouts.
The PowerOutage.us website, which tracks power outages, said 4,113,701 Texas customers were experiencing outages around 2:00am on Tuesday.
Since most homes are not normally insulated for cold weather high demand for electricity caused the power grid to fail.
The crisis was worsened when nearly half the state’s wind power generation was knocked out by the storm on Sunday. Wind power is the state’s second-largest source of electricity.
The winter storm brought deadly freezing winds, ice and snow to many regions that rarely see such frigid conditions.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said more than 150 million Americans were now under winter storm warnings.
At least 11 deaths have been blamed on the widespread storm.
US President Joe Biden has approved a state of emergency in Texas, which has seen some of its coldest temperatures in more than 30 years – about negative 18C.
The NWS 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 Washington D.C. to New York City, New Jersey and Boston.
Icy roads have also led to a spate of traffic accidents and people have been advised to avoid travel where possible. Up to 12 inches of now are expected across parts of the southern Plains.
The George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and the city’s Hobby Airport were both closed until at least Tuesday.
Travellers in several states were warned that flights could be delayed or cancelled.
Texas Governor Gregg Abbott has urged “all Texans to remain vigilant against the extremely harsh weather”.
Temperatures in the city of Dallas have been colder than in Anchorage, Alaska, CBS News reported.
The NWS said unusual meteorological conditions had allowed an “Arctic outbreak” that originated just above the US-Canada border to spill out into and across the US.