Winter storm left millions without power, at least 20 dead

A vehicle is stuck on a snow-covered road in Austin on Wednesday

Temperatures in Texas should rise above freezing by this weekend.

"Temperatures will still remain 20 to 35 degrees (Fahrenheit) below normal throughout the Plains, Mississippi Valley, and lower Great Lakes", the NWS said.

"There's really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area", said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, referring to Texas.

"I think what the politicians are missing, and what they're misleading the public about, is the fact that average conditions are different from peak conditions, and the way we need to plan for extreme events is to realize that the needs on the coldest days are different than the needs on the hottest day, which are different than the needs on the mildest days throughout the year", Cohan said.

Austin Energy, the local power company in the city of 950,000, said almost 200,000 area customers were without electricity.

Further inland, Chicago was expecting to see up to 14 inches of snow before the end of the cold snap. "Let us get the power back on", CEO Bill Magness of ERCOT, the power utility that supplies most of Texas, told CBS News.

But he added that as of midnight, 6,000 megawatts - enough to provide power to about 1.2 million homes, he said - have been added to the grid, and he said thousands of more megawatts were likely to be added soon.

Abbott said almost 40,000 megawatts of power remain offline, due to mechanical problems, lack of gas and weather issues.

Beto O'Rourke, a former Democratic presidential candidate from Texas, told MSNBC television the situation was "worse than you are hearing". "They're suffering", he said.

Republican politicians are using the widespread power outages in Texas to place false blame on renewable energy sources, but clean energy isn't what was fueling the majority of power plants that failed.

According to the Poweroutage.us tracking site, more than three million residential, commercial and industrial customers were without electricity in Texas as of Tuesday evening. Nearly 200,000 are waiting for the restoration of power in the Pacific Northwest. While the storm was the "central cause" of the power outages, he said there were outages caused by generation of coal and natural gas, as well as wind and solar, he said.

It was set up to be an electrical island independent from a national power network.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the top official in the most populous county in Texas, on Wednesday said the storms were straining not only the local electric grid but triggering a cascade of effects, including lost water pressure, carbon monoxide poisoning and halted COVID-19 vaccinations. In the Houston area, one family succumbed to carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust in their garage; another perished after flames spread from their fireplace.

A man in Louisiana died when he hit his head after slipping on ice, and a 10-year-old Tennessee boy died after he and his six-year-old sister fell through the ice into a pond Sunday.

A winter storm in the USA that left millions without power in record-breaking cold weather claimed more lives on Tuesday.

Across the southern border, Mexican officials said six people died after temperatures plunged.

At least 20 people have died, some while struggling to find warmth inside their homes. Two agricultural workers also died in neighbouring Tamaulipas from hypothermia.

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