More than 4 million Texans are reported to be without power Tuesday as temperatures remain well below freezing across the state, leaving residents scrambling for warmth.
Over 1 million of those outages were reported in the Houston area, according to PowerOutage.us, a website that tracks disruptions. Elsewhere, more than 300,000 customers are without power in each of the Dallas, San Antonio and Austin areas, it added.
“At this time, [the Electric Reliability Council of Texas] is unable to predict when grid conditions will stabilize,” Oncor, a utility that serves more than 10 million customers, tweeted Tuesday morning. “All customers are urged to be prepared for continued extended outages.”
With more frigid days looming, frustration is mounting over the outages in Texas, where surging demand and the loss of some power stations in the cold overwhelmed the power grid, forcing blackouts typically only seen in 100-degree Fahrenheit summers.
On Monday, more than 500 people were hunkering down at one shelter in Houston, but Mayor Sylvester Turner said other warming centers had to be shut down because those locations, too, lost power.
The blackouts forced a Texas county to scramble to get more than 8,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine into arms. The Harris County Public Health facility lost power after 1 a.m. on Monday and its backup generator also failed, said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.
Looking for large groups of people in places where they wouldn't have to drive and with appropriate medical personnel on hand, county officials distributed the doses at three hospitals, Rice University and the county jail, according to the Associated Press.
Much of eastern Texas remains under a winter storm warning Tuesday. The National Weather Service is forecasting “snow accumulations of 2 to 6 inches" with the heaviest amounts northeast of Dallas.
“Travel could become dangerous. Additional power outages are expected,” it said in an advisory. “The cold wind chills could result in hypothermia if precautions are not taken.”
The outages also are disrupting water supplies in some Texas cities.
In the Fort Worth area, more than 200,000 residents were told to boil their water before use because of power outages at water treatment plants.
And further south, in Corpus Christi, a similar boil order was issued after a major water line broke in the city of about 325,000 people. Mayor Paulette Guarjardo said the city would distribute bottled water to people who could not boil water because of power outages.
“It’s an unbelievable time of what’s happening to us but it is what it is,” she said, adding that the city would use all resources available to respond to the situation.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said in its Tuesday daily operations briefing that Texas officials have requested 60 generators from the agency and the priority for their use will be hospitals and nursing homes.
The blast of winter weather that caused the ongoing power outages is also affecting other states in the region.
Louisiana and Kentucky each have 120,000 or more customers without power as well as of midday Tuesday, according to PowerOutage.us.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.