Millions still don't have power in Texas, and Austin power providers have said outages will continue.
As nightfall threatened to plummet temperatures again into single digits, officials warned that homes still without power would likely not have heat until at least Tuesday, as frustration mounted and the state's electric grid came under growing demand and criticism. ERCOT, the nonprofit corporation that manages Texas' electric grid, had planned for rolling blackouts to deal with energy demands.
"We are very angry". About 100 school systems closed, delayed opening or switched to remote classes in Alabama, where forecasters said conditions might not improve until temperatures rise above freezing Wednesday afternoon. "We're all angry because there is no reason to leave entire neighborhoods freezing to death".
"This is a complete bungle", she said.
The toll of the outages was causing increasing worry. Harris County emergency officials reported "several carbon monoxide deaths" in or around Houston and reminded people not to operate cars or gasoline powered generators indoors. Officials in Sugar Land, a city just southwest of Houston, said three children and their grandmother were killed in a fire at a house that had been without electricity for at least eight hours early Tuesday.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said an Arctic air mass had spread southward, well beyond areas accustomed to freezing weather, with winter storm warnings posted for most of the Gulf Coast region, Oklahoma and Missouri.
It's estimated that about 80% of the grid's capacity, or 67 gigawatts, could be generated by natural gas, coal and some nuclear power.
"It feels awesome. I'm very grateful", said Harry Golen, a college sophomore who waited for almost four hours with his friends, much of it in the cold, and was among the last people to get the shots, which otherwise would not have reached students until March or April. "It's priority number one!" "This is unacceptable", Abbott wrote in a statement.
By some estimates, almost half of the state's natural gas production has screeched to a halt due to the extremely low temperatures, while freezing components at natural gas-fired power plants have forced some operators to shut down. Some wind turbine generators were iced, but almost twice as much power was wiped out at natural gas and coal plants.
"It appeared that the winterization we were doing was working, but this weather was more extreme than (past storms)", Woodfin said.
Still, Magness said ERCOT could not offer a firm timetable for when power might be fully restored.
President Joe Biden declared an emergency on Monday, unlocking federal assistance to Texas. The state opened 35 shelters to more than 1,000 occupants, the agency said. "And, pumps use electricity, so they're not even able to lift that gas and liquid, because there's no power to produce". 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 OR, according to poweroutage.us, which tracks utility outage reports. In Texas, demand peaks in August, at the height of the state's sweltering summers. ERCOT anticipated four gigawatts of maintenance outages during the winter.
"That's nonsense. It's not acceptable", Hirs said. "Every eight to 10 years we have really bad winters. This is not a surprise".
Climate change should be factored in too, he said. "I think we are going to be more days without light, that is what it seems like". "People said this would never happen in Texas, and yet it has". She said she was anxious about another blast of wintry weather forecast for Tuesday night and the possibility of her home's pipes bursting.
"There's a serious lack of preparation on the part of the energy companies to not be ready", Murdoch said.
In Houston, Barbara Matthews said she lasted in her home until Monday night.