Millions without power as US braces for another winter storm

By Meg Wagner, Judson Jones and Mike Hayes, CNN

Updated 7:58 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021
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7:53 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Houston power company can't provide rolling blackouts due to "generation shortfall"

From CNN’s Keith Allen

An executive for a company that delivers power to Houston-area homes said at a news conference today that rolling blackouts aren’t a possibility due to a “generation shortfall” at the state’s power generation companies.

“We still don't have sufficient generation from the power generation companies to go to the rolling outages that we all may have expected to occur during this event,” said Jason Ryan, CenterPoint Energy senior vice president for regulatory services and government affairs.

Ryan said they have been able to transfer some outages across the CenterPoint system, but cautioned that they may not be able to continue with this practice.

“Today, we've been focusing on those customers who have beared the burden of this event from the beginning, starting at about 1:30 a.m. yesterday, and working through the list to transfer those outages to people who haven't yet sustained those outages,” Ryan said.

“We are transferring sustained outages across our system, as we have the power to do so which is important. We may not always have the power to do that. So, what should you expect whether you have power or not as we sit here right now, you should plan as if you may have sustained outages until this generation shortfall is over," he continued.

Ryan pleaded with residents who do have power to conserve as much as possible as the region continues to grapple with the after-effects of the storm and sustained outage.

“Every unit of power that you don't use helps one of your fellow Harris County citizens keep their power,” Ryan continued. “There is nothing too small that you can do. When you have 2.6 million homes and businesses, a small effort by everybody that has the power at this time to conserve makes a big difference.”

7:33 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Georgia rescheduling vaccine appointments after winter weather delays shipments

From CNN's Chris Boyette

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) said Tuesday it had received notification from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines scheduled to arrive early this week would be delayed by the manufacturers due to the inclement winter weather.

“As a result, many providers statewide, including health departments, are being forced to reschedule appointments for vaccination. Rescheduling appointments will depend on when shipments resume and when the vaccine arrives in Georgia. Delays are expected to continue through the week,” DPH said in a statement.

Other states have had the same problem.

The weather also is affecting a distribution hub in Tennessee that sends vaccinations to Colorado and other states, according to Colorado State Joint Information Center. 

7:32 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Biden tells governors from states impacted by storm that administration is "prepared to assist" them 

From CNN's DJ Judd 

President Joe Biden makes his way to board Air Force One prior to departure from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on February 16.
President Joe Biden makes his way to board Air Force One prior to departure from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on February 16. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The White House released a readout of President Biden’s call with a bipartisan group of governors affected by severe winter weather this week, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

According to the White House, Biden “reiterated to all the governors that his Administration is prepared to assist and stands ready to respond to requests for Federal assistance from the governors and will deploy any additional Federal emergency resources available to assist the residents of their states in getting through this historic storm.”

 

6:53 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

More than 100 broken water lines reported in Tulsa as winter cold pounds city

From CNN's Dave Alsup

As winter storms and arctic blasts pound Oklahoma and other states, Tulsa is reporting over 100 water main and service line breaks, according to the Waterline Break Board on the city's website.

As of Tuesday evening, the city data shows 113 water line breaks since Sunday.

According to the city, a "Main Break" is when a main water pipe fails and a “service line break” is when the pipe between the water main and the water meter fails. In both cases, a “steady stream of water surfaces, bubbles or flows from the surrounding ground.”

On Tuesday, Tulsa suffered a record low temperature for the day at -16 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“Water line breaks in Tulsa are creating dangerous conditions,” Tulsa Police tweeted with a photo of a parked patrol car that became stuck when a water line broke and the water froze around the vehicle’s wheels.

Police advised people to move vehicles away from standing water if possible.

Across Oklahoma, 123 people were hospitalized Monday with weather-related injuries.

“Crews are working 24/7 to try and get to each of these problem areas,” police tweeted.

6:49 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Travis county judge will sign order prohibiting businesses from price gouging during storm 

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Travis County, Texas, Judge Andy Brown on Tuesday said he is signing an order prohibiting businesses from increasing the prices of certain goods and services during a winter storm in parts of the state.

Speaking during a news conference with other local officials, Travis said this will include hotel rooms.

"If you happen to see evidence of price gouging going on in Austin or Travis County, or anywhere in Texas, I would encourage you to document it and report it to the Office of the Attorney General," he said.

Brown added the order will also force local businesses, including officer towers and sports facilities, to turn off their exterior lights and quit using electricity "if those lights or functions aren't related to essential businesses." 

Local officials emphasized prolonged power outages could last longer than tonight. 

"Until this weather event clears, and more generating units across the state are able to come online, there will not be enough capacity to meet all energy customer demand," said Jackie Sargent, general manager at Austin Energy. "ERCOT [Electric Reliability Council of Texas] has indicated that this energy emergency will continue until the grid is stabilized and there's more generating capacity available to meet our statewide customer demand." 

6:23 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Winter storms in Tennessee delay Colorado Covid-19 vaccinations

From CNN’s Chris Boyette

Brutal winter weather affecting a vaccine distribution hub in Tennessee has delayed Covid-19 vaccinations in Colorado and other states, according to Colorado State Joint Information Center. 

“Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is working with Colorado’s health care providers and local public health agencies across the state to make adjustments over the coming days to make sure appointments and clinics do not need to be canceled,” the state said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ahead of the President’s Day holiday weekend, Colorado requested and received doses on Friday that had been scheduled for this week, but the state’s allocation of 133,000 vaccines expected to arrive Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will still be impacted by the winter storms.

“This decision helps us have enough on hand to work with providers to move doses around to prevent cancelations,” the press release said.

Winter storm warnings are in effect in parts of Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and all of Arkansas. Watches are in place from Kentucky to New England.

6:19 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

2,000 people in Florida's Miami-Dade County will miss their second vaccine dose due to weather delays

From CNN's Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt

Approximately 2,000 people in Florida's Miami-Dade County will not receive their scheduled second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine due to weather-related supply delays, according to Rachel Johnson, communications director of the Miami-Dade mayor’s office.

Johnson told CNN that the second doses of the Pfizer vaccine that was scheduled to be administered on Thursday has not arrived. 

All the people impacted have been notified about the delay, according to Johnson, and have been told that as soon as the vaccine arrives their appointment will be rescheduled. 

6:33 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

Airlines cancel hundreds of flights in Texas due to bad weather

From CNN's Pete Muntean

A United Airlines jet is deiced at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on February 16 in Houston, Texas.
A United Airlines jet is deiced at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on February 16 in Houston, Texas. David J. Phillip/AP

Airlines are canceling hundreds of flights after this week’s massive Texas snowstorm.

American Airlines says it canceled about a third of its flights on Tuesday. An airline spokesperson says 970 mainline and regional flights were canceled of 3,003 flights scheduled. Air traffic into and out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport—the airline’s largest hub—was slowed, but the airport did not close. 

Southwest Airlines says it canceled 450 flights Tuesday out of 1,900 that were scheduled to operate. Southwest's hub of Houston Hobby was closed but will reopen late Tuesday afternoon, according to a tweet from the airport’s verified Twitter account.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston is slated to reopen around 8 p.m. CT, the airport tweeted Tuesday. The airport is a hub for United Airlines, which says it canceled about 800 flights Tuesday due to bad weather across the country. The airline has issued travel waivers for Houston but also the northeast, Ohio River Valley, and the Great Lakes region.

Delta Air Lines says it has seen approximately 230 cancellations Tuesday across its flight network with the majority in Texas and adjacent states.

6:35 p.m. ET, February 16, 2021

25% of people in Dallas County are in the dark

From CNN's Rebekah Riess

Customers use the light from a cell phone to look in the meat section of a grocery store on February 16 in Dallas, Texas.
Customers use the light from a cell phone to look in the meat section of a grocery store on February 16 in Dallas, Texas. LM Otero/AP

A fourth of the utility customers in Dallas County, Texas, are without power ahead of another frigid night, according the Dallas County judge’s office.

“The most dire situation right now are the power outages. We have about 25% of the Dallas County customers without power with temperatures projected to be below freezing until Friday and another winter storm approaching this evening," Lauren Trimble, chief of staff for the Dallas County judge, told CNN.

Statewide: Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick called the massive statewide power outages involving the Electric Reliability Council of Texas “unacceptable" earlier today in a statement on Twitter.

"Millions of people without power during this arctic blast is life-threatening and unacceptable. We must get to the bottom of this to be sure we are better prepared even if an unprecedented weather event happens again," the statement said.