US: Millions endure deep freeze without power, at least 21 dead
A historic winter storm has killed at least 21 people, left millions of Texans without power and spun killer tornadoes into the US Southeast on Tuesday.
Ocean Isle Beach: 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 severe cold has killed at least 21 people and has engulfed vast swaths of the United States, shuttering Covid-19 inoculation centers and hindering vaccine supplies. It is not expected to relent until the weekend.
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.
Other causes included car crashes and carbon monoxide poisoning.
President Joe Biden's administration said delays in vaccine shipments and deliveries were likely.
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.
President Joe Biden assured the governors of hard-hit states that the federal government stands ready to offer any emergency resources needed, the White House said in a statement.
Storms dumped snow and ice from Ohio to the Rio Grande through the long Presidents Day holiday weekend, and treacherous weather was expected to grip much of the United States through Friday. Forecasters predicted up to 4 inches of snow and freezing rain from the southern Plains into the Northeast.
(With inputs from agencies)