(CNN) — Nearly 170 million people are under winter weather warnings Monday, with icy roads, power outages and dangerously low temperatures threatening to jam traffic and paralyze cities from coast to coast.
In the heart of the country, at least 11 people have died in weather-related car accidents since freezing temperatures took over the country. Nine died in three separate incidents in Texas on Friday, one person died in Kentucky and another died in an accident in Oklahoma on Sunday.
More than 1.5 million customers were without power early Monday morning, and most of the outages were reported in Texas, where outages began overnight amid high demand.
Severe winter weather has prompted emergency declarations in at least seven states, including Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas, which has suffered the brunt of cold weather.
Harris County, Texas, officials warned residents during a Press conference Sunday night they stay indoors.
“The window to prepare for this historic storm has closed as the time has come to duck,” said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, adding that the dual threat of ice on the ground and extreme cold weather will pose ” serious challenges ».
Historic lows in Texas
Houston police responded to more than 130 traffic accidents Sunday night, Police Chief Art Acevedo said in a Tweet.
A ten-car crash on I-45 south of downtown was just one of many incidents on icy roads.
“Please avoid traveling until this severe weather event subsides,” Acevedo said.
The mayor, Sylvester Turner, who declared a state of emergency earlier that day, echoed the police chief’s orders.
Please stay off the roads tonight and until tomorrow. This is serious! The roads are dangerous! ‘
Icy roads in the state have already proven deadly. A drive-up north of Houston in Fort Worth on Friday involving more than 130 cars killed six people and injured dozens more, and at least 65 people sought treatment at local hospitals after the accident.
LEE: Crash involving more than 70 vehicles in Fort Worth, Texas, leaves at least 6 people dead, police report
In addition to the danger posed by icy roads, the mayor also warned residents that the weather could cause power outages.
By early Monday morning, more than a million customers were without power in the state, according to PowerOutage.US. The Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) began the outages early Monday, said a Tweet of ERCOT.
“This is typically done through rotating outages, which are controlled temporary outages of electrical service. This type of demand reduction is only used as a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electrical system as a whole, ”said ERCOT.
They had previously asked consumers and businesses to reduce their electricity use as much as possible through Tuesday.
“We are experiencing unprecedented power demand due to the extremely cold temperatures that have gripped Texas,” said ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness.
“At the same time, we are dealing with higher-than-normal outages due to frozen wind turbines and limited supplies of natural gas available to generating units. We’re asking Texans to take some simple and safe steps to reduce energy use this time.
Houston and the surrounding areas are under their first wind chill warning. All counties in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas are currently under a winter storm warning.
Cold wave from coast to coast
Freezing temperatures are forecast to affect more than 245 million people in 48 states over the next seven days, and more than 50 million Americans are expected to experience freezing temperatures.
The cold air is so widespread that it could travel 3,000 kms from the Rio Grande on the Mexican border to the St. Lawrence River on the Canadian border fully on winter storm warnings or alerts.
There is a chance that more than 240 cold temperature records will be broken by Tuesday night, and some records have already been broken.
Oklahoma City has gone a record five days without rising above -6 degrees Celsius; it is not expected to exceed them until Thursday, over a nine-day period.
“This cold snap is forecast to result in record low temperatures that are comparable to the historic cold waves of February 1899 and 1905,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Along with the unusual and widespread cold come snow events that could also break records.
Seattle has already recorded more than 11 inches of snow over the weekend, the most since January 1972, nearly 50 years ago.
Southern cities, including Dallas and Oklahoma City, have the potential to have the most snowfall in a decade, and between two blizzards this week, they have their snowiest weeks on record.
CNN’s Tyler Mauldin, Brandon Miller, Joe Sutton, Keith Allen, and Gisela Crespo contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism