Winter is wreaking havoc across much of the southern United States.
A huge storm caused the death of more than 20 persons and left millions of people without electricity.
Widespread blackouts occurred in Texas because the power grid was collapsed by an increase in demand.
Millions of people in the state, which rarely experiences such low temperatures, are struggling to cope with the lack of power and low temperatures.
The extreme weather will continue through the weekend, authorities have predicted.
The deaths attributed to the storm occurred in Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Missouri.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said more than 150 million Americans were now under winter storm warnings.
And on Tuesday, it was reported that more than 73% of the US was covered by snow.
The storm even reached northern and central Mexico, where millions of people have also experienced intermittent power outages for days.
“I’m in Houston, Texas, freezing to death,” wrote Twitter user Chris Prince.
“There is no electricity, no heating, no water. I have four small children. How is this happening?”
Another user, Josh Morgerman, wrote that a friend in Texas had no choice but to “burn furniture in the fireplace” to keep warm.
Scientists have linked climate change to a growing number of severe events around the world, including hurricanes, heat and cold waves, and floods.
“Public health disaster”
Deaths from this intense storm include traffic accidents, as well as some people who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning by running cars and generators indoors to keep warm.
“This is an absolute public health disaster,” a Houston health official told local television station KPRC-TV.
“(Carbon monoxide poisoning) certainly occurs in cold weather, but never in these amounts,” he explained.
One county reported that it had recorded more than 300 suspected cases of carbon monoxide poisoning during the cold snap.
At least four people were killed in a house fire in Houston that authorities said may have been set by candles.
On the other hand, the police reported the death of two men who were found along a highway in Houston and who died due to the cold.
Meanwhile, in North Carolina, a tornado generated by the same storm left three dead and 10 injured.
The cold wave also forced the covid-19 vaccination centers to close for several days and has hampered the delivery of doses.
How cold is it in Texas?
The state has experienced some of its coldest temperatures in over 30 years. Some areas hit -18 ° C on Sunday, and US President Joe Biden approved a state of emergency.
About four million people in Texas are without power, including 1.4 million in Houston alone.
About a quarter of homes in Dallas are also experiencing blackouts.
The scale of the blackout drew the ire of some officials and residents. Gov. Greg Abbott said the situation was “unacceptable.”
He called for an investigation into the Texas Electrical Reliability Council (Ercot), an energy cooperative responsible for the vast majority of the state’s electricity.
He later told local media that the body should reform and its leaders should resign. “This was a total failure,” he told ABC News. “They showed that they were not reliable,” he added.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Ercot said he was “restoring supply as quickly as possible in a stable manner.”
Homes in Texas are not normally protected against the cold weather, which means that indoor temperatures in homes quickly dropped to zero after heating systems failed.
Frozen pipes also often burst, despite attempts by some homeowners to insulate them from the cold with blankets.
Chuck Hairston, who lives in a Fort Worth suburb, was without power for about 31 hours when he spoke to the BBC on Tuesday.
He said that his family had slept by the fireplace covered with “all the blankets and pillows we could find in the house.”
He had checked with local hotels, but they were either fully booked or had no electricity.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.