Resilience Natural Disasters

Hazardous winter weather has killed 21, left millions in danger without power

texas winter storm uri 21 dead louisiana kentucky carbon monoxide poisoning missouri northeast southeast states emergency power outages
Pike Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm on February 16, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas. Winter storm Uri has brought historic cold weather and power outages to Texas as storms have swept across 26 states with a mix of freezing temperatures and precipitation.  Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Story at a glance

  • The Southern U.S. is being ravaged by historic snowfall that is causing major electric disruptions.
  • Winter Storm Uri is expected to track north toward the end of the week.

At least 21 people have died as a result of the devastating Winter Storm Uri laying siege upon the southern U.S.

Reuters reports Tuesday 21 fatalities between Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Missouri as massive snowfall disrupted power for millions of residents in the storm’s path. 

Forecasts indicate that the snowfall and freezing rain are poised to continue for another three days, promising about 1-2 additional inches.



Leadership in Texas, Kentucky and Louisiana have declared states of emergency as snowfall and frigid temperatures persist. Uri has caused mass power outages in these states, creating dangerously cold indoor temperatures.

As of Wednesday, nearly 3 million Texas homes are without power, with some counties reporting more than 80 percent of customers lacking power. 

Texas has even issued a warning regarding high risks of carbon monoxide poisoning as people resort to turning on stoves and running cars in garages for temporary sources of heat — something the Texas Department of State Health Services expressly warns against.



The demand for electricity across states experiencing power outages has reached record highs. Bill Magness, the CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said the outages due to the storm are unprecedented.

“We have seen nothing like this honestly in Texas, that has covered the state like the storm has. It increased demand to an extreme, extraordinary height, and then the storm also made it difficult for the supply to be provided,” Magness said

He adds that so many power plants have been incapacitated due to poor winterization of power facilities and structures.

“These power plants just physically were not ready. They thought they were ready for the severe winter storm,” he commented.

Magness also concedes that the conditions brought on by Uri have been “historic” for the state.

On Sunday, President Biden approved an Emergency Declaration for Texas, which will free up resources from the federal government to assist state officials as they work to help residents survive the cold conditions. 

Neighboring Louisiana is also experiencing similar power outages, with energy resources being stretched thin as demand spikes. 

NOLA Ready, an emergency preparedness organization for New Orleans, acknowledged residents are likely to experience outages, and the organization is tracking restoration efforts in the city limits. 



Live updates reveal some counties near Baton Rouge are still experiencing some power disruptions. Eastern Kentucky is also recording widespread power outages, primarily in the northeast corner of the state.

Uri is expected to track toward the northeast, with winter storm warnings and weather advisories issued for Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland and eventually further north into Massachusetts and New York. 

The same snowy and icy conditions ravaging Texas and Louisiana are expected to hit the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., metro area by the end of the week.