Storm knocks out power for millions in Texas, suspected tornado kills 3 in N. CarolinaFebruary 16, 2021
A deadly winter storm pummeling the country’s south and mid-section left millions without power in Texas early Tuesday and spawned a possible tornado that killed three in North Carolina.
The possible tornado in North Carolina’s Brunswick County left at least three people dead and injured 10, Brunswick County Emergency Services said.
The suspected tornado hit Brunswick County just before midnight, ripping homes from their foundations and snapping trees in half. County emergency management officials said there were reports of people trapped in homes or feared missing as rescue operations get underway.
Power lines were also downed, Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation said, with thousands of people without electricity.
In Texas, two people, among them a child, died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was used to generate power for heat, Houston Police said.
More than 3.8 million people are waking up without power in Texas, according to poweroutage.us., as record low temperatures bring a demand for power that the state’s electric grid couldn’t keep up with.
The hardest-hit area around Galveston and Houston, according to poweroutage.us
The storm that dropped snow and ice from Arkansas to Indiana — and brought record-low temperatures from Oklahoma City to Minnesota’s Iron Range, where thermometers dipped to minus 38 — was expected to move into the northeast Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. Snow, freezing rain and ice are expected from the Ohio Valley to Pennsylvania and Maine, the forecaster said.
Texas officials pleaded with residents to stay off the roads, conserve power and seal up drafty windows and doors.
“I’m not gonna’ pretend it’s not gonna’ be a tough night,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo told reporters Monday. “We’re gonna’ be watching, responding to crises that come up and let’s get through this together.”
Among the crises that the county had already handled was a power outage — and subsequent failure of a backup generator — at its public health department, where more than 8,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine were being held in cold storage, Hidalgo said.
Thousands of doses were promptly dispatched to the Harris County Jail, Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, Rice University and elsewhere, she said.
Images from the school showed dozens of shivering students awaiting their shots.
“I literally dropped everything, got everything on and sprinted here, and apparently everybody had the same thought as me,” one student told NBC affiliate KPRC.
Elsewhere in Texas, San Antonio International Airport canceled all flights scheduled for Tuesday, and the Dallas Stars delayed a National Hockey League game against the Nashville Predators in an effort to conserve energy.
The Houston Chronicle, meanwhile, was forced to stop producing its print edition after its plant lost power at 2 a.m. In a note to subscribers, the newspaper said that hadn’t even happened when the city was battered by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Abilene, a city of about 170,000 residents, shut off its water service as a result of power outages at all three of its water treatment plants, it tweeted.
Kansas City, Missouri, like cities scattered across the U.S., including in Tennessee and Iowa, were threatened with rolling power outages Monday. The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities across 17 states, called for rolling outages because the supply of reserve energy had been exhausted.
The Pacific Northwest was hammered by a weekend storm and was dealing with lingering problems Monday, with hundreds of thousands of people in Oregon still in the dark after heavy snow and ice brought down tree branches this weekend and blocked storm drains in Washington state and Idaho, raising concerns about flooding.
Nearly 5,000 power lines were brought down by ice and tree limbs and multiple transmission lines were severely damaged by the storm that swept through.
The National Weather Service said the next storm was expected to move from the Rockies into the Southern Plains on Tuesday, bringing freezing rain to east Texas and Louisiana and as much as 8 inches of snow to parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri.
—The Associated Press contributed to this report.