Rare winter deep freeze forces residents of southern U.S. to cope with brutal cold
Anger growing in Texas — considered the energy capital of the U.S. — over ongoing mass power outage
A rare deep freeze brought snow and ice to normally temperate parts of the southern United States, forcing Texas's electric grid operator to impose rotating blackouts because of higher power demand.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than four million people in Texas — considered the energy capital of the U.S. — still had no power as freezing temperatures ranging from -2 C to -22 C created a surge in demand for electricity to warm homes unaccustomed to such extreme lows, buckling the state's power grid.
The breakdown sparked growing outrage and demands for answers over how Texas — whose Republican leaders as recently as last year taunted California over the Democratic-led state's rolling blackouts — failed such a massive test of a major point of state pride: energy independence.
Weather forecasters predict more snow and ice late Tuesday and Wednesday along a storm front reaching from Texas to the Appalachian states.
Here's a look at how people are coping with the cold.
The worst outages were in Texas, with pockets in the state's largest cities, including San Antonio, Dallas and Austin, shouldering the lasting brunt of the catastrophic failure. People lit fires and bundled up to stay warm.
In Garland, Texas, Dan Bryant and his wife, Anna, huddle by the fire with their sons and their dog Joey, who was wearing two doggie sweaters, as temperatures dropped inside their home.
(Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News/The Associated Press)
Authorities in Houston said a woman and a girl died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning at a home without electricity, where a car was running in an attached garage.
In East Dallas, brothers Alfredo and Eduardo Colon lost their power during the night at around 2 a.m. They spent the day huddled around a fire outside.
"It feels better out here than it does in there," Alfredo Colon said.
(Juan Figueroa/The Dallas Morning News/The Associated Press)
Volunteers in Oklahoma City checked on homeless people who had been sleeping on the ground under blankets during record-breaking cold weather. Hundreds of people in Houston relocated to warming centres in shelters, though some of those had to be shut down because they, too, lost power.
Snowy, icy roads made for dangerous driving conditions. In the nearby state of Louisiana, police reported that it had investigated nearly 75 weather-related crashes caused by a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain in the past 24 hours.
For some in Oklahoma, driving wasn't possible at all until they had help digging out their vehicles.
Air travel was also affected. By mid-morning on Monday, 3,000 flights had been cancelled across the United States, about 1,600 of them at Dallas/Fort Worth International and Bush Intercontinental airports in Texas.
The power outages forced some Houston grocery stores to shut down, leaving people waiting in long lines to purchase supplies.
(David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)
For some, a trip to the grocery store involved a long trudge through the snow-laden streets. At least one person could be seen riding a snowboard down Congress Avenue in Austin, Texas.
Colin McDonald wasn't so lucky. He pulled his children down the road on a kayak.
(Bronte Wittpenn/Austin American-Statesman/The Associated Press)
For dozens of people, like these Baylor University students in Waco, Texas, the snow made for the perfect social media moment.
(Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald/The Associated Press)
They pulled out their cellphones and went for picturesque walks, and dozens in Houston headed to the nearest hill for some sledding.
(Steve Gonzales/Houston Chronicle/The Associated Press)
The massive winter storm that immobilized the Southern Plains was heading to the eastern Great Lakes and New England, where heavy snow and freezing rain was expected Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
The storm system left behind record-setting cold temperatures, and another wave of snow and ice was predicted late Tuesday and Wednesday along a storm front extending deep into the South.
With files from Reuters