The U.S. National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a warning for an “unprecedented and soaring” snowstorm affecting more than 150 million Americans, mainly in the eastern and southern part of the country, which could leave more than 60 centimeters of snow in the coming hours.
The storm is leaving heavy snow, frost, freezing temperatures and millions of homes without power, U.S. public radio NPR reports. “This impressive onslaught of wintry weather is the combination of potent Arctic high pressures with freezing temperatures and a storm with waves of precipitation that are coast-to-coast,” the NWS has warned.
“Teeth-chattering” temperatures will continue through Tuesday with lows between -20 and -10 degrees Celsius. Overall, temperatures will be 25 to 45 degrees below normal and wind warnings will be in effect for much of the region.
“This prolonged polar plunge in temperatures will break hundreds of February minimum temperature records and even threaten historic temperature lows,” the NWS has explained. The minimums could be similar to those of the historic February freezes of 1899 and 1905.
Thus, in Kansas City, -35ºC was reported on Monday, the record low since 1989. Lows have also been recorded in cities such as Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas.
In Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Texas emergency situations have been declared and there are power outages in Oregon, Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia and North Carolina. Texas is one of the hardest hit states, with some 2.7 million customers without power.
Precisely in Texas, the National Guard has deployed troops to help transport seniors to shelters, after a power outage that has affected nearly three million people.
This has been communicated by the governor of the second largest state in the United States, Greg Abbott, who has detailed that the troops will help local government agencies to move people to the 135 cold shelters that have been established throughout the territory. Also this Sunday, U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Texas, which allows for federal assistance aid to help local and state teams.
This declaration authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, specifically the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts. In addition, emergency protective measures for mass care and shelter and direct federal assistance will be provided with 75 percent federal funding.
Extreme weather conditions have also forced the oil sector to shut down facilities, resulting in more than 3 million barrels per day of oil processing capacity being idled in the wake of the record cold, according to the consulting firm Energy Aspects. These shutdowns portend reduced supplies as well as higher prices in the coming days.