Feb. 17 (UPI) — Millions of people in Texas were still without power at the start of the day Wednesday, owing to the major winter storm that spans a large swath of the United States and produced rare snowfall in the Lone Star State.
The storm arrived early this week, bringing snow and bitter cold temperatures across Texas and other parts of the Midwest and Southeast.
AccuWeather reported that a record 73% of the continental United States is covered with snow, topping the old mark of 71% from 2011. At this time last year, the snow coverage across the country was just 35%.
More than 4 million customers initially lost power when the snow arrived and about 3 million were still without electricity on Wednesday, according to poweroutage.us.
Utility officials say the outages could last for several more days.
The state began rolling blackouts across Texas on Monday to reduce demand as low temperatures forced more power sources offline than expected. The state’s electrical grid struggled to handle demand when the cold front first arrived last weekend.
Hundreds of thousands of customers in Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia and Virginia are also still without electricity. Some power outages were also reported in New Orleans, which saw muted Mardi Gras celebrations this week due to the weather and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frigid cold was reported across the Midwest on Wednesday, including below-zero temperatures in Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio, which actually set a record low on Tuesday — topping a mark set in 1895.
Lincoln, Neb., which recorded a low of -31 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday, set a record low on Wednesday morning.
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So far, at least 20 deaths across the impacted states have been attributed to the storm.
Ice also continues to be a major problem across the storm system. Several states are urging residents to stay home and avoid driving. Dozens of vehicle crashes have occurred across the region related to the severe weather.
Hundreds more flights were canceled at major airports in the South and Midwest, including Dallas, Houston, Nashville and Atlanta, according to FlightAware.
On Galveston Island along the Texas Gulf Coast, officials placed the city under a Stage 5 water restriction after major water pipe breaks. Residents were asked to limit water use, including showers and lawn care.
Officials in Tulsa, Okla. reported 92 water main breaks.
Another winter storm is expected to affect the Ohio Valley and New England in the coming days, after it moves on from the southern Plains.
As many as 12 inches of snow — and as much as 2 feet in higher elevations — are expected from West Virginia to Maine.
AccuWeather contributed to this report
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