Winter's wrath makes for a cold and deadly week in Texas

·3 min read
A pickup truck and other vehicles are seen making their way along a snow-covered stretch of Interstate 10 on Monday in Houston.
A pickup truck and other vehicles are seen making their way along a snow-covered stretch of Interstate 10 on Monday in Houston.

(Yi-Chin Lee/Houston Chronicle via AP - image credit)

Winter weather pummelled Texas this week, leaving millions of people in the second most-populous U.S. state coping with lingering power outages and a dangerous cold snap.

Snow was falling in the Lone Star state as far back as last Sunday, the weather causing crashes that shut down parts of the interstate in both Texas and neighbouring Oklahoma.

Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, was hit with both snow and freezing rain.

At that point, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott warned that residents across the state would see further "extremely harsh weather" in the days to come — which they did.

Not what you expect in Texas

Patrick Minott uses a push broom to scrape snow and ice off his vehicles, on Monday in Kingwood, Texas.
Patrick Minott uses a push broom to scrape snow and ice off his vehicles, on Monday in Kingwood, Texas.

Patrick Minott uses a push broom to scrape snow and ice off his vehicles, on Monday in Kingwood, Texas.

By Monday, several million Texans were dealing with rolling blackouts, as the state's electric grid operator struggled to deal with increased demand for power amid plunging temperatures reaching into sub-zero, double digits in some cases.

"Who would think it would be snowing in Texas, where you wake up in the morning and see nothing but snow and it's so cold?" said one man, whose apt summary of the situation was featured on The National that night.

A couple walks in Hermann Park covered in snow in Houston on Monday.
A couple walks in Hermann Park covered in snow in Houston on Monday.

A couple walks in Hermann Park covered in snow in Houston on Monday.

The wrathful winter weather wasn't just hitting Texas, which was under a state of emergency by that point, but a broad swath of the United States as well.

But in Texas, it seemed especially out of context. Houston, for example, would typically see daily highs far above the freezing mark during the month of February.

A struggle to stay safe, warm

Texans dealing with rolling blackouts and power outages improvised to stay warm.
Texans dealing with rolling blackouts and power outages improvised to stay warm.

Texans dealing with rolling blackouts and power outages improvised to stay warm.

By mid-week, many Texans were still working to stay warm, with some people resorting to lighting fires to make that happen.

On top of the general stress of the situation, several tragedies were reported as well, including the death of a family who were trying to keep warm in a car left running inside a Houston garage.

And at least six deaths have been attributed to the cold in Abilene, a city in western Texas, including a man who was found dead in his bed.

At least 70 deaths had occurred as a result of the recent winter weather in the wider United States, according to a report from The Associated Press on Friday.

Further challenges

A man in Waco, Texas, is seen clearing snow from his driveway alongside his dog on Wednesday.
A man in Waco, Texas, is seen clearing snow from his driveway alongside his dog on Wednesday.

A man in Waco, Texas, is seen clearing snow from his driveway alongside his dog on Wednesday.

The power situation gradually improved in Texas throughout the week, but the winter weather didn't let up, and some problems related to the emergency persisted.

As of the week's end, roughly one-quarter of the population of Texas — about seven million people — were under a boil water advisory stemming from issues related to the wintry blasts that struck the state this week.

But electrical grid operators in Texas were reporting Friday that power transmission had returned to normal, though some small outages remained.

A group of Texans line up for water being given out to people in need by a brewery in Austin, Texas, on Friday.
A group of Texans line up for water being given out to people in need by a brewery in Austin, Texas, on Friday.

A group of Texans line up for water being given out to people in need by a brewery in Austin, Texas, on Friday.