NOTE: Information in this article was excerpted from multiple internet sites and news sources which were presumed accurate at the time of publication. Some numbers may have been updated since then.
On February 10 of this year the Washington Post and the National Weather Service, and other news outlets, reported a winter storm was forming north of the Gulf coast, dropping significant amounts of sleet and ice on many states in the Deep South and the Ohio Valley, including Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee.
A second storm developed off the Pacific Northwest on February 13 and began to gradually organize as it tracked southward toward Texas. It grew even more ferocious as it turned toward the northeast before splitting in half — one half continuing into Quebec and the other moving out over the Atlantic Ocean. This storm, along with various others from the previous two weeks, resulted in over 75% of the contiguous U.S. being covered in snow.
The Atlantic reported this event was directly responsible for nearly 10 million people losing power, 5.2 million in the U.S. and 4.7 million in Mexico. At least 100 people lost their lives, and a tornado outbreak spanned Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Damages from the blackouts were estimated at $195 billion, making this the costliest disaster in Texas history. According
to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Texas power grid was “seconds or minutes away from” complete failure when partial grid shutdowns were implemented.
Numerous sources, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported the effects, while most acute in Texas, hit several states very hard, with dire results.
Those who died succumbed to hypothermia, house fires, drownings and car crashes, or were found in homes or cars after being fatally poisoned by carbon monoxide, often emitted by vehicles or generators.
ABC News reported the water shortages, power outages and burst pipes also made it harder for hospitals to care for patients. One man died at a medical center in Abilene, when he was unable to get dialysis treatment requiring large amounts of filtered water along with electricity and heat.
In Houston, a woman died in her idling car, which was parked in her garage, where she sat while charging her phone. She was talking on the phone to a friend when she started to feel tired. When the police arrived hours later, at the urging of the friend, they found that the woman and her 7-year-old daughter had died. Her husband and 8-year-old son were hospitalized. In Conroe, Texas, an 11-year-old boy died in his bed, even after his parents and siblings had huddled in one bedroom because of the cold, the police said.
Burst pipes, frozen wells and water treatments knocked offline by the winter storm and power failures led to a water crisis across much of Texas, where millions had no running water or were ordered to boil it before use.
Please read PART II of The Texas Freeze for Rytech’s response.