Dangerous winter storm kills at least 11, leaves millions without power, mainly in Texas

Author: Omar Villafranca / CBS
Published: Updated:
A man stands at an intersection asking for money during a winter storm on February 14, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Sue Ogrocki / AP

At least 11 deaths have been linked to a dangerous winter storm system that’s breaking records across the country. Some 4 million homes and business in Texas were without power early Tuesday as the electric system struggled to meet demand, according to poweroutage.us.

Among the dead were a woman and girl who were in an attached garage in Houston where a car was being run because the lack of power meant there was no heat in the home, reports the CBS affiliate there, KHOU-TV. Authorities said they suffered carbon monoxide poisoning. So did a man and boy from the same family, who were hospitalized. There was no word on their condition.

In Fort Worth, two people were in critical condition and one was in serious condition from what was believed to be carbon monoxide poisoning, reports CBS Dallas. A child was also among those overcome but was said to be in good condition.

Also in Texas, a 78-year-old man died after falling on his front lawn and being stuck in the cold for two hours.

A tornado spawned by the same storm system tore through southeast North Carolina early Tuesday, killing at least three.

Two people lost their lives in Tennessee, two in Kentucky and one in Louisiana, authorities said.

Abilene, Texas tweeted that it “shut off water as a result of power outages from both power sources at all three of (the city’s) water treatment plants.” It wasn’t known when service would be restored.

The record cold snap turned Texas into a tundra. Flurries fell in south Texas, blanketing Galveston’s sandy beaches in white. Galveston’s city manager warned infrastructure damage caused by the extreme temperatures could rival the cost of a hurricane.

Frozen roads sent an 18-wheeler careening out of control near Austin. A man nearly lost his life, jumping out of the way just seconds before a car lost control and crashed into a police cruiser.

“The ultra-low temperatures will last for several days, meaning that what becomes frozen will remain frozen for a long period of time,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

He tweeted that the National Guard was “deployed across the state to help move vulnerable Texans to warm shelters.”

The historic storm also caused problems across the country.

Firefighters in Vermont rescued a young man from frigid waters after he fell through the ice. Tennessee roads turned into ice rinks after frozen precipitation fell. In Little Rock, Arkansas, cars were at a standstill on a slippery highway, trapping nurses who just got off their shift.

The temperature in parts of Oklahoma dipped below 20 degrees for five days straight for the third time ever. With another storm looming, crews worked to clear snow as fast as they could.

In Louisiana, the cold caused a transformer to blow, ripping a fireball through power lines.

The agency overseeing Texas’s power grid has declared its highest emergency level in over a decade.

The power outages are also complicating the fight against the pandemic. After a medical facility storing vaccines in Houston lost power, medical officials scrambled to use them before they spoiled.

There have been over a dozen flight cancellations at Southwest Florida International Airport. For the full details, visit the Lee County Port Authority website.


Additional reporting by Brian Dakss.

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