An Arctic air mass descended over much of America, pushing temperatures to historic lows on February 16th. In Nebraska, a temperature of minus 35 degrees Celsius broke a record set in 1978 of minus 27°C.
The record-breaking cold weather has claimed more than 20 lives. The winter storm overwhelmed power grids and left millions without power. The worst US power outages were in Texas, affecting more than 4 million homes and businesses. Nearly half of Texas’installed wind power generation capacity has been offline because of frozen wind turbines in West Texas. Utilities from Minnesota to Texas began rolling blackouts to ease the burden on power grids.
The deep freeze halted operations in the nation’s largest oil field the Permian in West Texas. Oil production was forced to shut down, dealing a heavy blow to the energy industry.
The weather also threatened to affect the nation’s COVID-19 vaccination effort. President Joe Biden’s administration said delays in vaccine shipments and deliveries were likely.