Millions of people in the United States are facing frigid, stormy weather, although the number of people without power in the southwestern state of Texas dropped below a half million on Thursday for the first time in four days.
Electricity in Texas, the country’s second-biggest state, was restored to about 2.5 million people. The head of the cooperative that is responsible for most of the state’s electricity said there was progress Wednesday in boosting available power and that officials hoped that soon people would only have to deal with rolling blackouts before service is fully restored.
But the state faced a new problem, with officials ordering 7 million people, about a quarter of its population, to boil tap water before drinking it because of damaged infrastructure and frozen pipes.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott urged residents, if possible, to shut off water to their homes, to prevent pipes from bursting and preserve water pressure in municipal systems.
The massive storm system has been blamed for at least 30 deaths in the U.S. this week. In the Houston area, the Associated Press reported that one family died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to car exhaust in their garage, while a grandmother and three children were killed by flames that escaped the fireplace they were using to keep warm.
The National Weather Service says the storm is moving across several states on a 2,300-kilometer track to the northeast, with 38 centimeters of snow on the ground in the state of Arkansas to the east of Texas, heavy snow and ice further north through the Appalachian Mountains and up to 20 centimeters of snow predicted Thursday and Friday in the New York metropolitan region