Millions without power as winter weather blasts the US

By Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:25 PM ET, Mon February 15, 2021
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5:06 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Texas governor deploys National Guard to conduct welfare checks

From CNN’s Keith Allen and Artemis Moshtaghian

Abbott speaks during a news conference on the weather on Monday, February 15.
Abbott speaks during a news conference on the weather on Monday, February 15. KEYE

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Military Department have deployed the National Guard to conduct welfare checks on residents, as the state continues to battle bitter cold and a winter storm, according to a news release from his office.

State officials are also sending resources to assist local municipalities clear roadways and assist health care personnel and power grid workers, the release said.

The state has opened 135 warming centers as more than 3 million residents contend with power outages and heating concerns, according to the release.

“Due to the severe weather and freezing temperatures across our state, many power companies have been unable to generate power, whether it’s from coal, natural gas, or wind power,” Abbott said in the release. 

“ERCOT and the PUC are working non-stop to restore power supply. The state has also deployed resources to assist Texans without power and to help essential workers continue to carry out their jobs. In the meantime, I encourage all Texans to continue to stay off the roads, and conserve energy as state agencies work with private providers to restore power as quickly as possible,” he added.

Meanwhile, the city of Fort Worth, Texas, has issued a boil water notice for residents living in the north side of the city, according to a Facebook post from the Fort Worth Water Department. 

The order comes after a power outage at the Eagle Mountain Treatment Plant and a subsequent loss of water pressure.

4:59 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

How this Texas family is trying to stay warm during rolling power outages

From CNN's Amanda Jackson

Courtesy Ryan Rijken
Courtesy Ryan Rijken

Ryan Rijken said his family in north Texas has been dealing with rolling power outages since around 3 a.m. local time on Monday.

His wife, Salena, is eight months pregnant and is caring for their young boys, Max, 4, and Theo, 2.

"It has been on and off intermittently since about 3 a.m. We get about 30 min on, 45 off. Some stretches have been toward an hour either way," said Rijken who lives in Celina, Texas. 

"My wife is almost eight months pregnant and she’s keeping our boys bundled under blankets while they hang out during the outages," he added.

When asked if he thought they might go to a hotel if the outages continue, Rijken said, “Ya, it’s pretty insane. Been in DFW since 2004 and can’t remember it being like this. We haven’t considered a hotel because as much as we can gather, much of the area is working through what we’re working through too, including businesses and hotels.”

4:50 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Kentucky transportation secretary tells residents: "Don't travel at all if it can be avoided"

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray said there have been two fatal crashes today, calling road conditions “extremely hazardous" during an afternoon news conference. 

"Traffic will become difficult to impossible this afternoon and tonight," Gray said. “Don't travel at all if it can be avoided.”

The transportation secretary said highway crews are working as hard as they can, with as many as 2,000 employees and more than 1,000 pieces of equipment working to clear roads across the state.

Gov. Andy Beshear this afternoon again addressed the significant winter storm affecting the state, saying Kentucky is one of the only state’s seeing all three — snow, sleet and freezing rain, or an ice storm “in a very significant way.” 

Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett said every single county in the state is under either a watch or a warning.

“There is weather in every single county at this point," he said.

Dossett said the state is expecting another winter weather event Wednesday and Thursday. “It’s basically play it again. We’re going to experience rain, snow, sleet and ice, maybe three to six inches of accumulation of snow. And then we will move into, thankfully, a warming trend,” he said.

4:42 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

More than 400 weather-related traffic incidents have been reported in Mississippi since Sunday

From CNN's Kay Jones

The Mississippi Highway Patrol has investigated more than 400 weather-related traffic incidents since Sunday.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol tweeted that 443 incidents have been reported statewide as of noon CT today. The agency said it is "working hard to keep up with calls to investigate accidents and offer assistance to motorists affected by the winter storm." They asked people to "please refrain from unnecessary travel." 

Icy roads are reported throughout the state due to the winter storm, according to a Facebook post by the Mississippi Department of Transportation. All but eight counties reported ice on roads and bridges as of 1 p.m. CT, the post said. 

4:32 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

More than 3.8 million customers in Texas are without power

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

More than 3.8 million customers are without power in Texas Monday afternoon due to a winter storm, according to poweroutage.us

More than 600,000 customers are also without electricity across Oregon, Louisiana, Virginia and Mississippi.

Here are the outages by state:

  • Texas: 3,828,965
  • Oregon: 320,849
  • Louisiana: 115,937
  • Virginia: 102,357
  • Mississippi: 61,338
4:17 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Power company announces temporary outages across Kansas and Missouri due to winter storm

From CNN's Gisela Crespo

Evergy announced Monday it has begun to turn off electricity to blocks of customers across Kansas and Missouri for about 30 to 60 minutes in "controlled, temporary emergency electricity reductions" to avoid larger and extended power outages. 

In a news release, the company said that once the period has concluded, power will be restored to the impacted area.

"The emergency outages will then rotate to another portion of Evergy’s service area. Power will cycle off and on periodically until the reduction is no longer required," the release says.

Evergy said it is following a directive from the Southwest Power Pool "due to the extended extreme temperatures affecting the regional power supply."

Evergy serves about 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri, according to the release.

 

4:13 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Curfews implemented across Louisiana due to winter storm

From CNN's Kay Jones

Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge WBRZ

Several parishes in Louisiana have implemented curfews due to the cold weather and icy conditions throughout the state.

East Baton Rouge Parish, which includes Baton Rouge, will be under a curfew starting tonight at 8 p.m. through 7 a.m. CT tomorrow while West Baton Rouge Parish's curfew will be from 9 p.m. CT through daylight on Tuesday. 

Other curfews were announced in the parishes of Acadia, Lafourche, Lafayette, Livingston, Pointe Coupee, and Vermilion.

3:43 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Damage from winter storm could be worse than a hurricane, Galveston official says

From CNN's Gregory Lemos and Brandon Miller  

The city manager in Galveston, Texas, says damage to infrastructure from the freezing temperatures could be worse than that caused by a hurricane. 

Between 90% to 95% of homes in Galveston are currently without power.

"Damage to homes from freezes could be worse than some hurricanes if it doesn't return soon," Galveston City Manager Brian Maxwell told a local newspaper, a statement confirmed to have been said by Maxwell by Galveston Public Information Officer Marissa Barnett. 

Barnett said the city is particularly concerned about the freezing temperatures bursting pipes. 

3:30 p.m. ET, February 15, 2021

Power outages are a main concern right now, Houston mayor says

From CNN’s Artemis Moshtaghian

Houston Mayor's office
Houston Mayor's office

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, speaking at an afternoon news conference today, said power outages are a major concern for the city.

“The main issue for right now are the power outages that are taking place throughout our state,” he said.

Turner said a number of generator plants have been taken offline in various parts of the state due to frozen-over wind turbines and a nuclear plant also had to be taken offline due to hazardous weather conditions. 

“My number one concern right now are the power outages and that is not something we here at the city control—that is not within our control, but it is impacting a lot of people throughout the state of Texas, specifically in the Houston region,” Turner said.

“It is a systemwide failure across the state,” the mayor said as he explained that the state entity Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) controls most of the state electric grid.

Turner said he’s aware of the social media chatter asking him to turn on the heat but adds that that isn’t under his purview, “that’s on the state level and that’s creating a great deal of power outages.”

Shortly after Turner’s news conference, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted that the Texas power grid has not been compromised.

“The ability of some companies that generate the power has been frozen. This includes the natural gas & coal generators,” Abbott tweeted adding that ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission of Texas are working to get power back online, prioritizing residential consumers.

ERCOT said a combination of high demand and failures at generating sites are to blame for the prolonged outages.

CNN’s Jeremy Grisham contributed to this reporting.