Houston | Electricity has been gradually restored, but hundreds of thousands of homes were still without electricity Thursday morning in the United States, which was hit by a severe cold wave that spread to large parts of the country and is expected to last until the end of the week.
The mass of cold air from the Arctic is starting to wane, but freezing temperatures are expected to continue, according to meteorologists from the National Weather Service (NWS).
“Cold records (…) can be recorded in the south-central United States until Saturday morning,” notes the NWS. The Mississippi Valley and Plains can expect daily temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees below normal. “
Meteorologists said on Wednesday that more than 100 million Americans in the Midwest have been affected by warnings of winter storms of varying intensity.
Jeff Zents, the White House coordinator for COVID-19, said the cold had affected the vaccination campaign, forcing sites to close.
For his part, President Joe Biden had to postpone a visit, scheduled for Thursday, to the Pfizer vaccine production plant in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Friday.
More than 30 deaths related to bad winter weather have been recorded across the country according to US media, and authorities urged Americans to be careful.
In Texas, energy companies have restricted chain-partial cuts since last weekend, in order to prevent the entire system from overheating due to a sudden surge in demand.
The company, which runs the state distribution network, Erkot, said on Wednesday it had restored electricity to 1.6 million homes. “We are working around the clock to restore electricity to Texas,” company president Bill Magnus said in a statement.
According to Poweroutage.us, which lists blackouts in the United States, more than 674,000 Texas homes and businesses were without power as of Thursday morning.
The power shortage was exacerbated by the closure of many gas-fired power plants and wind turbines due to freezing conditions.
The ordeal was particularly evident on Wednesday at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas’ largest city, where many residents took refuge in the cold.
Among them, David Hernandez, 38, spent the night there after his car broke down. “I was trying to sleep in the car, but it was very cold. All the liquids turned into ice cubes so it was like sleeping in the refrigerator.” “I had to come here, and I had no choice.”
It did not spare the bad weather and the cold from the animals. The Primate Conservation Organization, based near San Antonio and without authority since Monday, reported 12 monkey deaths on Wednesday despite efforts by caregivers to try to keep the primates warm.
Peto O’Rourke, former Texas candidate in the Democratic primary for the 2020 presidential election, ruled to MSNBC that “most of these difficulties could have been guarded,” affirming: “Texas is not far from being a failed state.”
Snow covered up to 73% of the United States, excluding Hawaii, Alaska and other territories outside of the mainland, overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, according to the NWS. Record number since these procedures began in 2003.
And Texas, accustomed to moderate temperatures even in winter, is not flabby: a 6-inch-thick white coat covered the capital Austin, a record for more than 70 years, and could drop more snowflakes. In this state in the next few days, the weather service warned.
“The stunning cold snap that hit the continental United States is linked to a combination of high freezing temperatures in the Arctic with freezing temperatures and a very active depression with waves of rain,” the NWS explained on Monday.
Outside of Texas, residents have also been without electricity across Oregon (northwest), Louisiana (south), Mississippi (south), Kentucky (central east), Ohio (northeast), West Virginia (east), and Virginia (east)), according to poweroutage.us.
Extreme conditions also created several tornadoes, one of which struck Monday through Tuesday over the southeastern United States, North Carolina, killing three people and wounding ten.