Millions without power in Texas as dangerous winter weather continues

BY: WILLIAM MANSELL, MARILYN HECK, JOHN HAWORTH AND EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC NEWS

(DALLAS) — Over 3.2 million customers in Texas are without power as dangerous winter weather continues to slam the state.

“This is the winter version of Hurricane Harvey,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told ABC Houston station KTRK-TV. “And we will learn from this also, and we will come up with strategies to make sure there are available sources of power and energy so that things like this do not happen again.”

In the Houston area, 1.3 million people remain without power, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday. Nearly 800 people are being housed in warming centers, which are at full capacity.

Three weather-related deaths have been reported in Houston, the police chief said.

Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the agency that oversees the state’s electric grid, entered its highest alert level overnight Sunday into Monday and started rolling blackouts to conserve power.

“This is typically done through rotating outages, which are controlled, temporary interruptions of electric service,” ERCOT said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “This type of demand reduction is only used as a last resort to preserve the reliability of the electric system as a whole.”

To help conserve energy, ERCOT asked residents to close their blinds, unplug unused appliances, wait to do laundry for a few days, wear warmer clothes and put the heat at 68 degrees.

ERCOT said Tuesday, “The number of controlled outages we have to do remains high. We are optimistic that we will be able to reduce the number throughout the day.”

Texas vaccine shipments are on hold because of the storm.

“Due to the winter storm and dangerous conditions, the CDC has put vaccine shipments on hold,” the Texas Department of State Health Services said. “We are not expecting deliveries to occur until at least Wednesday. Many local vaccine providers have postponed clinics since it is not safe for people to be out across much of Texas right now. Vaccination will resume as soon as it is safe and local conditions allow.”

President Joe Biden approved Texas’ emergency disaster proclamation on Sunday.

But Texas isn’t out of the woods yet.

Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, ice and snow will move into Texas and Oklahoma.

Dallas could see 1 to 4 inches of snow — and more power outages are expected.

Austin to Houston to Louisiana could see ice accumulation and very treacherous travel Wednesday morning.

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