Saturday November 27th, 2021 6:56PM

Winter storm keeps nation in deep freeze, claims more lives

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

OCEAN ISLE BEACH, N.C. (AP) — A winter storm that left millions without power in record-breaking cold weather claimed more lives Tuesday, including three people found dead after a tornado hit a seaside town in North Carolina and four family members who perished in a Houston-area house fire while using a fireplace to stay warm.

The storm that overwhelmed power grids and immobilized the Southern Plains carried heavy snow and freezing rain into New England and the Deep South and left behind painfully low temperatures. Wind-chill warnings extended from Canada into Mexico.

At least 11 deaths were reported from other causes, including car crashes and carbon monoxide poisoning. President Joe Biden’s administration said the weather was likely to cause delays in shipments and deliveries of the COVID-19 vaccine.

North Carolina's Brunswick County had little notice of the dangerous weather, and a tornado warning was not issued until the storm was already on the ground.

The National Weather Service was “very surprised how rapidly this storm intensified ... and at the time of night when most people are at home and in bed, it creates a very dangerous situation,” Emergency Services Director Ed Conrow said.

In Chicago, a foot and a half (46 centimeters) of new snow forced public schools to cancel in-person classes for Tuesday. Hours earlier, along the normally balmy Gulf of Mexico, cross-country skiier Sam Fagg hit fresh powder on the beach in Galveston, Texas.

The worst U.S. power outages were in Texas, affecting more than 4 million homes and businesses. More than 250,000 people also lost power across parts of Appalachia, and another quarter million were without electricity following an ice storm in northwest Oregon, according to, which tracks utility outage reports. Four million people lost power in Mexico.

Texas officials requested 60 generators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and planned to prioritize hospitals and nursing homes. The state opened 35 shelters to more than 1,000 occupants, the agency said.

More than 500 people sought comfort at one shelter in Houston. Mayor Sylvester Turner said other warming centers had to be shut down because they lost power.

Utilities from Minnesota to Texas implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on power grids straining to meet the extreme demand for heat and electricity.

Blackouts of more than an hour began around dawn Tuesday for Oklahoma City and more than a dozen other communities, stopping electric-powered space heaters, furnaces and lights just as temperatures hovered around minus 8 degrees.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric rescinded plans for further blackouts but urged users to set thermostats at 68 degrees, avoid using major electric appliances and turn off lights or appliances they are not using.

Nebraska's blackouts came amid some of the coldest weather on record: In Omaha, the temperature bottomed out at 23 degrees below zero overnight, the coldest in 25 years.

The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities covering 14 states, said the blackouts were “a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole.”

The outages forced a Texas county to scramble to administer more than 8,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine after a public health facility lost power early Monday and its backup generator also failed, said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

County officials distributed the doses at three hospitals, Rice University and the county jail because those places had large groups of people available where they would not have to drive and with appropriate medical personnel on hand.

“It feels amazing. I’m very grateful,” said Harry Golen, a college sophomore who waited for nearly four hours with his friends, much of it in the cold. He was among the last people to get the shots, which otherwise would not have reached students until March or April.

Texas officials said more than 400,000 additional doses due now will not arrive until at least Wednesday because of the storm.

In North Carolina, the weather service’s office in Wilmington dispatched a team to confirm that a tornado did indeed touch down and to survey damage in Brunswick County, said Mark Willis, the office’s meteorologist in charge.

Three people died and 10 were injured when the apparent tornado tore through a golf course community and another rural area just before midnight Monday, destroying dozens of homes.

Sharon Benson, 63, said her roof was damaged and her garage door blown off. Windows were shattered and nearby trees were uprooted.

“The sky lit up and there was a lot of pop-pop-popping" and thunder, she said.

Authorities in multiple states reported deaths in crashes on icy roads , including two people whose vehicle slid off a road and overturned in a waterway in Kentucky on Sunday, state police said.

In Texas, three young children and their grandmother died in the Houston-area fire, which likely began while they were using a fireplace to keep warm during a power outage, a fire official said.

Other Texas deaths included a woman and a girl who died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning in Houston at a home without electricity from a car left running in an attached garage, and two men found along Houston-area roadways who likely died in subfreezing temperatures, law enforcement officials said.

In west Tennessee, a 10-year-old boy died after falling into an ice-covered pond on Sunday during a winter storm, fire officials said.

Several cities had record lows: In Minnesota, the Hibbing/Chisholm weather station registered minus 38 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 39 degrees Celsius). Sioux Falls, South Dakota, dropped to minus 26 Fahrenheit (minus 26 degrees Celsius).

Air travel was also affected. At midday, more than 2,700 U.S. flights had been canceled, led by more than 800 at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and more than 700 at Bush Intercontinental in Houston.

Most government offices and schools were closed for Presidents Day, and authorities pleaded with residents to stay home Tuesday, too. About 100 school systems closed, delayed opening or switched to remote classes on Tuesday in Alabama, where forecasters said conditions might not improve until temperatures rise above freezing Wednesday afternoon.


Associated Press staff around the United States contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Winter storm keeps nation in deep freeze, claims more lives
A winter storm that left millions without power in record-breaking cold weather has claimed more lives
2:58PM ( 6 minutes ago )
US stock indexes turn mixed, natural gas prices surge
Stock indexes are mixed in afternoon trading Tuesday, shedding some of their gains from earlier in the day
2:36PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Cultural 'big deal': Seal oil makes menu at Alaska care home
Seal oil has been a staple in the diet of Alaska’s Inupiat for generations
2:28PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: 4 die in house fire during Texas power outage
A fire official says three young children and their grandmother died in a Houston-area house fire early Tuesday morning while it’s believed they were trying to stay warm during a power outage
1:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
Tyler Perry, Clintons attend memorial for actor Cicely Tyson
Bill and Hillary Clinton, actor-director Tyler Perry and singer Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson are among those who attended a private memorial service for Cicely Tyson
1:31PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Cold front helped spawn North Carolina tornado
The emergency services director in a North Carolina county that was struck by a deadly tornado says the seaside community had little notice of the dangerous weather late Monday
1:30PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Case dropped after woman in racist NYC run-in gets therapy
Amy Cooper, the white woman arrested last spring for calling 911 during a dispute with a Black man in New York’s Central Park, had her criminal case dismissed after completing a counseling program meant to educate her on the harm of her actions
11:54AM ( 3 hours ago )
Vaccine delays leave grocery workers feeling expendable
As panicked Americans cleared supermarkets of toilet paper and food last spring, grocery employees gained recognition as among the most indispensable of the pandemic’s front-line workers
10:44AM ( 4 hours ago )
Democratic congressman sues Trump over role in Capitol riot
A Democratic congressman has sued Donald Trump, alleging Trump incited the deadly insurrection at the Capitol
10:02AM ( 5 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Marriott CEO Sorenson, 62, dies of pancreatic cancer
Marriott Chief Executive Arne Sorenson, who began limiting his schedule this month to pursue a more aggressive cancer treatment, has died
1:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Biden says weather delays likely for vaccine
President Joe Biden’s administration says delays in vaccine shipments and deliveries are likely because of severe weather across parts of the country
1:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Biden administration increasing vaccine supplies
President Joe Biden’s administration is increasing coronavirus vaccine supplies sent to states to 13.5 million doses per week
1:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
CVS posts strong Q4 numbers, but pandemic weighs on results
 CVS Health easily beat fourth-quarter expectations as revenue from COVID-19 testing and prescription growth helped counter hits from the on-going global pandemic
11:22AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Chicago area hit with more than a foot of snow
A winter storm has blanketed parts of the Chicago area with up to a foot and a half of snow, shuttering schools to in-person classes Tuesday as officials urged residents to stay off the snow-filled roads
11:16AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Johnson & Johnson seeks vaccine approval from EU
The European Medicines Agency says it has received a request from Johnson & Johnson for its one-shot coronavirus vaccine to be authorized
11:11AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
Power cut across Texas as snow, ice blanket southern Plains
The Texas council that manages the majority of the state's electricity has initiated rotating power outages as the state experiences a winter storm dropping snow, ice and temperatures
10:46AM ( 1 day ago )
Wintry weather blanketing US making rare dip to Gulf Coast
Snow and ice blanketed large swaths of the U.S. on Sunday, with areas as far south as Texas’ Gulf Coast beginning to get the wintry weather
10:27PM ( 1 day ago )
GM's Chevy Bolt SUV joins parade of new US electric vehicles
Whether people want them or not, automakers are rolling out new electric vehicle models
5:33PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
US stock indexes turn mixed, natural gas prices surge
Stock indexes are mixed in afternoon trading Tuesday, shedding some of their gains from earlier in the day
2:36PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Cultural 'big deal': Seal oil makes menu at Alaska care home
Seal oil has been a staple in the diet of Alaska’s Inupiat for generations
2:28PM ( 35 minutes ago )
FEMA opens mass vaccine sites as bad weather hampers efforts
As part of a wider effort by the Biden administration, FEMA opened its first COVID-19 mass vaccination sites Tuesday, setting up in Los Angeles and Oakland
2:27PM ( 37 minutes ago )
In Athens, rare snow blankets Acropolis, halts vaccinations
Heavy snowfall in Athens has blanketed the Acropolis and other ancient monuments, causing power outages and halting COVID-19 vaccinations
2:18PM ( 46 minutes ago )
The Latest: COVID puts damper on Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Mardi Gras joy is muted this year in New Orleans as authorities seek to stifle the coronavirus’s spread
2:12PM ( 52 minutes ago )