Power Outages Affect Millions As Winter Storms Bring Extreme Conditions to U.S.

Hundreds of thousands of customers across the United States have been left without power after winter storm systems brought heavy snow, icy conditions and travel disruption to vast swathes of the country over the weekend.

The south was the worst affected region, where more than 2.1 million people have been hit by power outages as of 6:51 a.m. ET, according to poweroutage.us. Texas accounts for the vast majority of this figure with around 2.07 million customers without power.

In addition, outages are affecting more than 290,000 and 146,000 customers in Oregon and Virginia respectively.

North Carolina, Louisiana and Kentucky are also reporting significant outages, with around 35,000, 18,000 and 12,000 customers without power respectively, according to poweroutage.us.

Early Monday morning, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)—an agency that oversees the state's power grid—introduced rolling outages as "extreme winter weather" forced generating units offline.

ERCOT said outages would likely last throughout the morning and could be initiated until the weather emergency ends.

"Every grid operator and every electric company is fighting to restore power right now," ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said in a statement.

"We urge Texans to put safety first," ERCOT tweeted early Monday. "Traffic lights and other infrastructure may be temporarily without power."

On Sunday evening, President Joe Biden declared an emergency in Texas, enabling the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief efforts and provide assistance to people affected by winter storms.

Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest, some customers could be without power for a day or more, PGE—a major utility company in the region—said on Sunday.

"Our hope would be that most would be restored sooner than that, but some customers will be affected for several days," Steve Corson, a spokesman for PGE, told the Associated Press on Sunday.

The heavy snow and ice, power failures and transport disruption caused by a winter storm in Oregon, led Governor Kate Brown to declare a state of emergency on Saturday.

"The weather that set in yesterday and continued overnight has left extensive damage with hundreds of thousands of Oregonians without power," Brown said in a statement. "Because of windstorms, utility crews were not able to safely start work on restoring power until this morning.

"Crews are out in full force now and are coordinating with local emergency response teams on communications for emergency services, such as warming centers. I'm committed to making state resources available to ensure crews have the resources they need on the ground."

The article and headline have been updated to reflect a change in the power outage data.

Snow in Seattle after winter storm
A person clears snow from a vehicle on February 13, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. A large winter storm dropped heavy snow across the region. David Ryder/Getty Images