As a winter storm covered the city in ice and cut power—and heat—to thousands of inhabitants for days, the mayor of Austin, Texas, responded to rising criticism and apologized for a lack of contact with citizens.
For example, Austin, where at any one moment 30% of consumers in the city of roughly a million were without electricity since the storm arrived early this week, had some reprieve from the weather on Friday when it finally started to calm.
"The city failed its residents." At a press conference, Democratic Mayor Kirk Watson declared, "The situation is intolerable to the community, and it's unacceptable to me." "And I apologize."
According to PowerOutage.us, the number of consumers without electricity by late Friday morning was close to 122,000.
In the meanwhile, the Northeast was hit by a fresh wave of icy weather that forecasts predicted might be the worst in decades, forcing local governments to suspend schools and establish warming centers. In some higher elevations, wind chills might drop below minus 50 (minus 45 Celsius).
Austin, Texas, authorities compared the destruction caused by downed trees and iced-over power lines to that caused by tornadoes as they faced criticism for their poor response times and altered plans to restore electricity. According to PowerOutage.us, fewer people were without power early on Friday than there were on Thursday (430,000).
Edward Dahlke of Spring Branch, southwest of Austin, told KSAT-TV, "Our heat source is our fireplace... and we've been in bed, tucked beneath like five or six blankets." Just consider how much better our utility providers might be at ensuring that our infrastructure is properly maintained.
Officials in Austin revised their earlier predictions that electricity will be entirely restored by Friday night on Thursday night. They said that the damage was worse than they had anticipated and that they were no longer able to quantify it.
The disruptions brought to mind the Texas blackouts of 2021, when hundreds of people perished as the state's electrical infrastructure was nearly brought to its knees by a shortage of generation. No fatalities have been linked to the power outages this week, but at least 12 car fatalities on icy roads in Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma have been attributed to the storm and freeze.
In Fort Worth, two tragic collisions happened due to the nighttime refreezing of the roads. On Friday night, lows might drop below freezing once more, perhaps glistening the streets once more.
The temperatures in New England started to drop Friday morning.
According to National Weather Service chief forecaster Bob Oravec, "the hardest aspect of the impending cold snap is going to be the wind," which has already exceeded 80 mph (129 kph) in higher elevations. On exposed skin, brutal wind chills—the result of wind and cold—are predicted on Saturday.
According to him, the Northeast's most populous places shouldn't see wind chills worse than minus 40 (minus 40 Celsius).
Many cities, notably in Maine and Connecticut, established warming shelters as a result of wind gusts that started disrupting electricity to some houses in New England on Friday.
Some ski slopes in the two states reduced lift operations or stopped offering night skiing. A well-liked weekend pond hockey competition in Maine was postponed, and Saturday's races for the National Toboggan Championship were moved up by a day.
Boston and Manchester, the biggest city in New Hampshire, both had no classes on Friday. Frostbite can manifest under these circumstances in as little as 30 minutes, according to a notice posted on the Manchester district website. "Students who walk home will just find it too chilly."
The Northeast's tallest mountain and location of a meteorological observatory, Mount Washington in New Hampshire, was predicted to see some of the most severe weather, with wind gusts of about 100 mph (160 kph) and wind chills as low as minus 100 (minus 73 Celsius).
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