Millions were without power when a winter storm Tuesday struck the southern and central United States with record temperatures in poorly prepared areas and a tornado that killed three.
More than 20 storm-related deaths have been recorded to date, including traffic accidents in Texas, Kentucky and Missouri, according to local media.
In hardest-hit Texas – where freezing conditions caused utility companies to implement rotating power outages – a woman and girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning after generating heat from a car, according to NBC News.
In Houston, a homeless man was killed “possibly through exposure” Monday, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Department, and the city police chief said another man was found dead after potentially low temperature exposure.
A man in Louisiana died hitting his head on the ice and a 10-year-old boy from Tennessee died after he and his six-year-old sister fell through the ice into a pond on Sunday.
US President Joe Biden promised Tuesday to provide additional emergency resources for those affected by the “historic storm”.
He also thanked “road workers, patrolmen and first responders who act quickly to save lives in appalling conditions,” according to a White House statement.
The winter storm produced at least four tornadoes in Atlanta, according to weather.com, including one on the North Carolina coast late Monday that killed at least three people and injured ten others.
“It is estimated that at least 50 households were affected by the incident and multiple power lines were damaged, resulting in blackouts,” said a statement from Brunswick County Emergency Services.
Photos and videos broadcast by US media showed fallen trees, flattened houses and crashed cars.
According to the tracking site Poweroutage.us, more than three million residential, commercial and industrial customers were without power in Texas as of Tuesday evening.
– lack of plow –
In the state capital Austin, the temperature dropped to -12 degrees Celsius – well below the average low of 45 ° F in February. In contrast, thermometers in Anchorage, Alaska read 20F.
Rare winter scenes played out in Houston, where locals built snowmen and sledged.
“It’s nice to see the white man, but at the same time very dangerous because the people here don’t know how to drive in it,” Houston-based Michael, who only gave his first name, told AFP.
“They know they are going too fast.”
In Mississippi, residents woke up to discover much of the state of Deep South, which had turned into a landscape covered in snow and ice.
Authorities reportedly struggled to clear roads because they did not have snow plows because the state rarely needs them.
Officials in the United States urged residents to exercise caution in dealing with the dangerous conditions.
Weather-related emergencies have been reported in Texas, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, and Oregon – nearly 200,000 customers have been without power.
Across the southern border, Mexican officials said six people died after temperatures dropped and frozen pipelines bringing natural gas out of the United States caused power outages.
Four died in Monterrey, three of whom were homeless who succumbed to exposure and one who died at home of carbon monoxide poisoning from a heater. Two farm workers also died of hypothermia in neighboring Tamaulipas.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said the winter storm will move towards the northeastern United States before “heading into eastern Canada”.
“But not before it causes heavy snow and freezing rain in parts of the eastern Great Lakes and New England,” the NWS said.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday ordered emergency services to prepare for sleet, ice, and freezing rain.
“This massive weather system is making its way across the country and is poised to deliver a double blow of snow, ice and high winds across the state for the next two days,” he said in a statement.
Further inland, Chicago expected up to eight inches of snow before the end of the cold snap. The weather had caused nearly 60 flight cancellations at local airports by Tuesday morning, reported the local ABC subsidiary.
(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)