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US weather: Twenty dead and millions without power as deadly freeze hits southern states

football souvenir colour Football Souvenir US weather: Twenty dead and millions without power as deadly freeze hits southern states
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A winter storm sweeping across the US has left millions without power and killed at least 20.

A rare bout of freezing weather has knocked out power, shut down shops, cancelled flights and closed schools across large parts of the country, including New England and the Deep South, with more freezing temperatures to come.

Several cities experienced record lows. Minnesota recorded -39C (-38F) and Sioux Falls in South Dakota, dropped to minus -26C (-26F). Omaha, Nebraska experienced -30C (-22F), its coldest temperature for 25 years.

More freezing temperatures are forecast, with wind-chill warnings reaching from Canada into Mexico.

A sign warns motorists after a sudden heavy bout of snow and frozen rain on MS Highway 463 in Madison
Image:
A sign warns motorists after a sudden heavy bout of snow in Madison, Wisconsin
James Derrick peeks out of his tent during record breaking cold weather in Oklahoma City
Image:
A man peeks out of his tent during record-breaking cold weather in Oklahoma City

The US National Weather Service said over 100 million Americans are currently under winter storm warnings.

Texas has been hit particularly badly with the temperature plunging to -22C (-7.6F) on Tuesday, compared to the usual February average of between 20C (68F) and 24C (75F) in central and southern areas.

Three people died, and 10 were injured, after a tornado spawned by the storm, hit a seaside town in North Carolina and four family members died in a Houston-area house fire while using a fireplace to stay warm.

Death were also reported in Tennessee, Kentucky and Louisiana. In all, at least 20 were reported.

Other causes included car crashes and carbon monoxide poisoning.

The freezing weather also threatened to disrupt the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination effort, with the government warning delays in vaccine shipments were likely.

On Tuesday evening Mr Biden governors of the impacted states and pledged emergency federal support.

The worst power outages were in Texas, where Mr Biden declared a federal emergency on Monday, affecting more than two million homes and businesses.

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A slippery slope: Man battles to clear ice

More than 250,000 people also lost power across parts of Appalachia, and another 200,000 were without electricity following an ice storm in northwest Oregon, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outage reports.

Utilities from Minnesota to Texas implemented rolling blackouts to ease the burden on power grids.

The storm reached further south to Mexico where four million lost power.

The outages forced a Texas county to scramble to administer more than 8,000 doses of Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine after a public health facility lost power early Monday and its backup generator also failed, said Rafael Lemaitre, a spokesman for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

County officials distributed the doses that could have spoiled at three hospitals, Rice University and the county jail because there were large groups of people available who would not have to drive and appropriate medical personnel present.

Texas officials said more than 400,000 doses due now will not arrive until at least Wednesday because of the storm.

football souvenir colour Football Souvenir US weather: Twenty dead and millions without power as deadly freeze hits southern states
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