United States: historic cold snap causing tornadoes

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The cold snap, which has already killed at least 20 people according to US media, continued on Tuesday. It has also killed at least six people in northern Mexico, including three from hypothermia and one from intoxication due to faulty heating, according to local authorities.

Over 3.5 million homes and private businesses in Texas

Used to mild temperatures, the Texans remained under the influence of an icy thermometer on Tuesday, which fell to -12 degrees Celsius in their capital, Austin, in the morning. That is a dip from the low average for February in this city (7.2 degrees) and even compared to the temperature recorded at the same time in Anchorage, Alaska (-7 degrees).

To avoid the overheating of the whole system because of a peak in demand, the electricity companies have been carrying out partial cuts since this weekend in this large state in the South of the United States.

More than 3.5 million homes and businesses were without power Tuesday night, according to the Poweroutage.us site. “It’s beautiful to see all this white but also very dangerous because people here do not know how to drive” on the snow, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) a resident of Houston, Michael, who does not did not want to give his last name. “They drive too fast.”

President Joe Biden on Sunday signed a declaration of emergency for Texas, providing federal assistance to supplement local relief. In Mississippi, the inhabitants awoke to discover the landscapes of this other southern state covered in snow and ice. The authorities were slow to clear the roads in the south where snowplows are not common, and usually little used.

Chicago under the snow

Authorities have urged Americans to be careful. “Frigid air and dangerously cold winds will persist in the Great Plains” in the heart of the United States “and the Mississippi Valley until the middle of the week,” the National Weather Service (NWS) warned Tuesday.

“A new winter storm will appear on Tuesday in the southern plains,” he continues in a bulletin. Further north, Chicago was under a thick blanket of snow, residents trying to free their cars.

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The “spectacular cold snap that hit the continental United States is linked to the combination of an arctic high carrying freezing temperatures and a very active low with waves of precipitation,” the NWS explained on Monday.

“It will take time to recover” in Brunswick County

In addition to Texas, nearly 600,000 people are without power across Oregon (northwest), Louisiana (south), Kentucky (central-east) and West Virginia (east), according to Poweroutage.us .

These extreme conditions caused the formation of at least four tornadoes, according to the specialized website weather.com, one of which fell in the middle of the night in the southeastern United States, in North Carolina, killing three people and causing ten injured. “It will take time to recover,” Brunswick County Rescue Service Manager Edward Conrow told reporters, adding that they were no longer looking for the missing. “We did receive a tornado alert from the National Weather Service but by then the storm was already hitting,” he explained.

NWS officials were “very surprised at how quickly the storm got stronger” and “at this time of night” just before midnight, “when most people are at home in bed, it creates a situation. very dangerous ”. About 50 homes were damaged and power cables cut, according to the Brunswick County emergency services.