Harris County, Texas, Judge Lina Hidalgo said current conditions are “dire” and the “biggest tragedy of this crisis” is the people without power. In some cases, people haven’t had power or water for more than 24 hours.
Hidalgo said CenterPoint Energy told her 1.37 million people in the region don’t have power, but the energy company is working to restore it.
“I want people to know that once this is over, I will be advocating on behalf of all of our residents in Harris County because all of us deserve answers as to what exactly went wrong. Why wasn’t ERCOT prepared? We all knew this weather was coming, so why did they not have electricity ready and stored? Why were they not resilient to deal with this situation? We’re going to have to ask questions, because we’re going need changes to be made so this doesn’t happen again,” Hidalgo said.
“But that’s a focus for later. Right now, we have to work on getting this energy back online and the state knows the situation, the extent of the tragedy we’re seeing here and there, I know they’re telling me, they’re working incredibly hard to get that power generation back online.”
CNN’s Jeremy Grisham contributed to this report.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during Tuesday’s press briefing that President Biden’s homeland security adviser has been in contact with governors of the states impacted by the recent winter storm that impacted the central US.
“A brutal arctic mass impacted the central United States this weekend, bringing freezing rain, sleet and snow from Texas to the mid-Atlantic. On Saturday night, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested a federal emergency declaration due to the severe weather storm. Homeland Security Adviser Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall called Gov. Abbott on Sunday to let him know that the President had immediately granted his request,” Psaki said.
On Monday, Sherwood-Randall called the governors of Alabama, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma, Psaki said, adding, “She expressed the President’s strong commitment to ensuring the federal government proactively does everything it can to support state and local officials in preparing for and responding to the events that impact our citizens.”
Psaki told reporters that the President has been kept informed on the situation and has been provided regular updates.
“I don’t have any calls to read out, but I expect he will be involved personally and if we have calls that he’s making himself we will provide that information to all of you,” she added.
Millions of people are still living a nightmare scenario of arctic cold, snow or ice with little to no power. There will be little time Tuesday before the next blast of winter weather compounds the situation.
Unfortunately, the situation across much of Oklahoma and northern Texas will get worse before it gets better,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.
“Millions across the southern plains will be impacted by yet another winter storm over the next 24 to 48 hours. This second shot of frozen precipitation will only have compounding impacts on those already struggling with power and water outages.”
Places like Little Rock, Arkansas, could see another 6 to 8 inches of snow on top of the 8 to 10 inches they have already seen. They typically average only 1.3 inches of snow in February.
This is likely to be Little Rock’s top snowiest 3-days ever.
Then there is the ice.
More sleet and freezing rain will fall from Central Texas through northern Alabama, once again coating portions of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in a fresh sheet of ice.
The National Weather Service in Fairbanks, Alaska, reported that its low today is 3 degrees.
The service pointed out that much of the lower 48 — including parts of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma — have colder lows than that.
The National Weather Service tweeted out this rough outline of the parts of the US with lows colder than Fairbanks today:
Following a severe winter weather event and deadly power outages, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said Tuesday it is “optimistic about power restoration” throughout the state.
“The number of controlled outages we have to do remains high. We are optimistic that we will be able to reduce the number throughout the day,” ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin said in a tweet Tuesday.
ERCOT said they expect to “restore some customers” Tuesday afternoon with wind, solar, and thermal power sources but “the amount we restore will depend on how much generation is actually able to come online.
ERCOT is the major grid operator in Texas and controls about 90% of the state’s electric load. ERCOT announced Monday that rolling power outages would be implemented to reduce demand on the system and has been implementing rolling blackouts since, a move that has drawn criticism from local officials.
The mayor of Texas’ largest population hub said he was “angry and frustrated” about the power outages in his city.
“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,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted Tuesday.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson also expressed frustration and ripped ERCOT’s lack of communication saying “people are suffering, and they need some idea of what to expect.”
“I have been as frustrated as everyone else today. I know this has been extraordinarily difficult. These power outages are unacceptable, and ERCOT needs to answer for them,” Johnson tweeted Tuesday.
Houston’s Police Chief Art Acevedo also weighed calling the power outages a “failure of the electrical grid” and blamed local leaders.
There are currently more than 4.4 million Texas households without power.
As the nation continues to deal with extreme winter weather, many states across the country have been forced to delay Covid-19 vaccinations. Below is a quick look at how some states are responding to the weather.
On Monday, the winter storm cut power to the Harris County Public Health Department building and the backup generator also failed, putting over 8,400 coronavirus vaccines in jeopardy of spoiling, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. The county quickly began farming out the doses to local hospitals, universities and jails to administer.
Dallas County was forced to close its Fair Park vaccination site through Wednesday, according to a county press release.
Also in the state, no first dose coronavirus vaccines are being shipped to the City of Corpus Christi and the Nueces County Public Health District on Monday and Tuesday due to winter weather, according to a news release from the city.
In San Antonio, the city postponed vaccine appointments at the Alamodome until Saturday due to the storm, according to a statement from the city.
The Oklahoma Department of Health tweeted “Due to inclement weather, some COVID-19 vaccine PODS will have adjusted hours or temporary closures throughout the week in order to ensure public safety is a priority consideration.”
The state continues to update their Inclement Weather Updates here.
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said on Monday that the state has canceled all of its Covid-19 mass vaccination events scheduled for Monday through Friday, due to extreme winter weather.
“Missouri is experiencing severe winter weather that makes driving dangerous and threatens the health and safety of anyone exposed to the cold. These conditions will also likely delay some vaccine shipments,” Gov. Parson said. “We want to protect the safety of everyone involved in the mass vaccination events, from the patients being vaccinated to the volunteers who generously support these events.”
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said the winter weather blanketing his state will cause some delays with Covid-19 vaccinations. During a Monday morning news conference, Beshear said “this weather is going to slow down our vaccinations,” but he hopes that the state will be able to make up for it next week after the last of the weather dissipates.
In Louisville, the LouVax vaccination site at Broadbent Arena will be closed Tuesday, the mayor said in a release.
The state’s department of health said several counties are closed on Tuesday, which in turn means they have been forced to cancel Covid-19 testing and vaccinations. A tweet from the department said those who had appointments for Tuesday will be contacted and appointments will be rescheduled.
Alabama Public Health said due to the weather across the state, several counties have had to delay vaccinations. A full readout of each county can be found here.
“Due to hazardous weather conditions, all MSDH drive-through vaccination sites will be closed Tuesday with the exception of the Coast Coliseum site in Harrison County. Canceled appointments at all other sites will automatically be rescheduled for the same time on an alternate day,” the Mississippi Department of Health tweeted.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control released a statement last week saying, “severe weather may delay the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine shipments over the next few days. Severe weather has the potential to impact the FedEx facility in Memphis and the UPS facility in Louisville that are vaccine shipping hubs for several southeastern states. The majority of hospitals and large vaccine providers in South Carolina receive their vaccine shipments directly from the federal government, and any shipping delays are beyond DHEC’s control.”
The department warned residents it may need to reschedule appointments to accommodate.
As the winter storm that blanketed parts of the South and Central US moves toward the Northeast today, a system that has been pouring cold precipitation on the West Coast is expected to take its place,
The National Weather Service in Houston said the storm will impact the region starting tonight through Thursday morning.
The service warned that roads and bridges will ice first.
Here’s a look at what the Houston area expects thought through Thursday:
Severe weather across the US is continuing to impact FedEx’s operations, including the ability to pick up and deliver in certain cities, according to a statement from the company.
FedEx also says that it has contingency plans to lessen the effect on operations and service and “implementing those plans as we’re able.”
“The safety of our team members is our top priority as we work to provide the best possible service for our customers,” the company said in the statement.
As the sun rose this morning, it illuminated the broad swath of snow (white) captured by NOAA’s weather satellite as low clouds (yellow) moved across the region.