Winter storm batters Southern US
President Biden on Sunday approved an emergency declaration for Texas and multiple governors have declared states of emergency as a winter storm batters the Southern United States.
Southern states are being pummeled with snow and freezing rain as they endure the coldest temperatures in years, decades and, in at least one case, even a century. Snow is piling in Texas and Oklahoma and is expected to grow heavier later Sunday.
State officials have encouraged residents to stay home amid the weather, with Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas all deploying the National Guard to respond to the disaster, according to The Associated Press.
Marc Chenard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS), told the AP that the southern Plains states could see up to 12 inches of snow into Monday, noting the rarity for winter storms to reach so far south.
All 254 counties in Texas received a winter storm warning from the NWS as of Sunday afternoon, as the state braces for continuing low temperatures, wind chills and precipitation from freezing rain to snow over at least the next day, the Texas Tribune reported.
President Biden approved a request for an emergency declaration for all Texas counties due to the results of the severe winter storm that has been affecting the state since Thursday. His approval to activate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to respond to Texas came a day after Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) inquiry.
“I thank President Biden for quickly issuing a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas as we continue to respond to severe winter weather conditions throughout the state,” Abbott, who issued a statewide disaster declaration on Friday, said in a release.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) declared a state of emergency for all 77 counties last week in preparation for the storm.
In a Sunday update, the governor said state and local authorities were “working around-the-clock to clear the roads as quickly as possible.”
The storm is already setting records for the region. The NWS in Houston issued its first wind chill warning in history on Sunday to stay in effect until noon Tuesday, while the NWS in Austin and San Antonio said it will experience the lowest temperatures since 1989.
— NWS Houston (@NWSHouston) February 14, 2021
Oklahoma City is expected to reach minus 11 degrees on Tuesday morning, the lowest temperature in 116 years, according to The Washington Post.
The weather led to the cancelation of many flights, including hundreds at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, and multi-vehicle pileups in Texas and Oklahoma.
Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s main grid operator, cautioned in a release that it could have to implement an energy emergency alert, leading to rolling power outages across the state due to “record-breaking electric demand.”