Knocked out: In Texas, millions face record lows without power as new storm approaches

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A deadly winter storm pummeling the country’s south and mid-section left millions without power in Texas early Tuesday and spawned a possible tornado that killed three in North Carolina.

Ripping homes from their foundations and snapping trees in half, the suspected tornado hit North Carolina’s Brunswick County around midnight and left at least three people dead and 10 injured, Brunswick County Emergency Services said Tuesday.

There were reports of people trapped in homes or feared missing as rescue operations got underway, Brunswick County emergency management officials also said.

“It’s something like I have never seen before. A lot of destruction,” Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram told a press conference Tuesday. “It’s going to be a long recovery process.”

Possible tornado causes at least 3 deaths and damage, power outages in Brunswick County, North Carolina.Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office

Power lines were also downed, Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation said, leaving thousands of people without electricity.

At least 25 people have died in weather-related fatalities so far since Thursday, the majority in Texas, as the storm continues to blanket large swathes of the country.

In Texas, two people, among them a child, died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a car was used to generate power for heat, Houston Police said.

More than 4.1 million people are waking up without power in Texas, according to poweroutage.us., as record low temperatures bring a demand for power that the state’s electric grid couldn’t keep up with.

The areas hardest hit by power outages were around Galveston and Houston, according to poweroutage.us

The storm that dropped snow and ice from Arkansas to Indiana — and brought record-low temperatures from Oklahoma City to Minnesota’s Iron Range, where thermometers dipped to minus 38 — was expected to move into the northeast Tuesday, the National Weather Service said. Snow, freezing rain and ice are expected from the Ohio Valley to Pennsylvania and Maine, the forecaster added.

Texas officials pleaded with residents to stay off the roads, conserve power and seal up drafty windows and doors.

Among the crises that the county had already handled was a power outage — and subsequent failure of a backup generator — at its public health department, where more than 8,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine were being held in cold storage, Hidalgo said.

Pedestrians walk on an icy road in East Austin, Texas, on Monday.Montinique Monroe / Getty Images

Thousands of doses were promptly dispatched to the Harris County Jail, Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital, Rice University and elsewhere, she said.

Images from the school showed dozens of shivering students awaiting their shots.

“I literally dropped everything, got everything on and sprinted here, and apparently everybody had the same thought as me,” one student told NBC affiliate KPRC.

Elsewhere in Texas, San Antonio International Airport canceled all flights scheduled for Tuesday, and the Dallas Stars delayed a National Hockey League game against the Nashville Predators in an effort to conserve energy.

The Houston Chronicle, meanwhile, was forced to stop producing its print edition after its plant lost power at 2 a.m. In a note to subscribers, the newspaper said that hadn’t even happened when the city was battered by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

Abilene, a city of about 170,000 residents, shut off its water services as a result of power outages at all three of its water treatment plants, it tweeted.

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In a bid to save power, officials in Dallas said their skylines would go dark, and Kansas City did the same.

Kansas City, Missouri, like cities scattered across the U.S., including in Tennessee and Iowa, were threatened with rolling power outages Monday. The Southwest Power Pool, a group of utilities across 17 states, called for rolling outages because the supply of reserve energy had been exhausted.

The Pacific Northwest was hammered by a weekend storm and was dealing with lingering problems, with hundreds of thousands of people in Oregon still in the dark on Monday after heavy snow and ice brought down tree branches this weekend and blocked storm drains in Washington state and Idaho, raising concerns about flooding.

Nearly 5,000 power lines were brought down by ice and tree limbs and multiple transmission lines were severely damaged by the storm that swept through.

The National Weather Service said the next storm was expected to move from the Rockies into the Southern Plains on Tuesday, bringing freezing rain to east Texas and Louisiana and as much as 8 inches of snow to parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and southern Missouri.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tim Stelloh

Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.

Adela SulimanAdela Suliman

Adela Suliman is a London-based reporter for NBC News Digital. 

Kurt Chirbas

Kurt Chirbas is a senior editor for NBC News based in New York.

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