A blistering, intense heatwave is battering the South, offering little relief to states as thousands remain without power after a devastating storm.
Temperatures soared to record highs, leaving large parts of the southern United States in triple-digit temperatures and hitting 114F (46 degrees Celsius) in some areas.
On Tuesday, the last day of spring, heat was already near mid-summer in much of the Southern Tier, prompting warnings for about 32 million in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico. The National Weather Service has also issued warnings of ‘hazardous conditions’.
Texas’ power grid operator was forced to voluntarily curtail electricity to residents due to expected record demand on the system.
But tens of thousands of people without power have lost patience after the outages that have continued since storms and tornadoes wreaked havoc over the weekend.
A man rests in the shade on a playground in the Hungry Hill neighborhood of Texas in the heat Tuesday
Standing in the mid-afternoon heat, James Hand wipes sweat from his face as he oversees a parking lot asphalt resurfacing job in Richardson, Texas, on Tuesday.
The National Weather Service will issue a ‘Hazardous Conditions’ warning
A woman and a child stand in front of a tornado-damaged residential area in Perryton, Texas, on Friday.
In the Mississippi capital of Jackson, some residents said they were without power and air conditioning for nearly 100 hours, longer than the outage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Entergy Mississippi, the state’s largest electric utility, said its crews had been working 16-hour shifts since Friday, but some officials questioned its preparedness.
Temperatures in the state are expected to reach 90F (32 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday.
“Delays in power restoration have caused significant hardship for their customers and are unacceptable,” said Brent Bailey, a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission, the state’s energy regulator.
The request by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which serves most of that state’s nearly 30 million residents, was the first of the year to cut energy costs. ERCOT said it is ‘not experiencing an emergency,’ but it noted that the state set an unofficial June record for fuel demand on Monday.
Temperatures in San Angelo, in the West Texas oil patch, hit an all-time high of 114F (46 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Many Texans are skeptical of the state’s grid after a deadly 2021 ice storm left hundreds of thousands of customers without power for days. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says improvements since then have made the grid more stable, but those improvement efforts continue to come under scrutiny.
CC Manor, 59, sits in her blanket-covered car in the Hungry Hill neighborhood on June 20, 2023 in Austin, Texas.
A worker takes a break from the heat during work resurfacing a parking lot in Richardson, Texas, Tuesday
Myra Howard cleans up her aunt’s damaged home in Moss Point, Miss., Tuesday
A tornado damaged a family’s home, their vehicle and their belongings in Mississippi on Tuesday
In neighboring Oklahoma, more than 100,000 customers were anxiously waiting for power and air conditioning to be restored after a weekend storm that toppled trees and toppled hundreds of utility poles.
Officials say at least one person has died in Oklahoma due to prolonged outages, which could last through the weekend for some residents.
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency Tuesday in the wake of the weekend storm, citing weather damage and “numerous” downed power lines.
In Louisiana, more than 51,000 power customers were still without power Tuesday because of the storm, which damaged more than 800 structures around Shreveport alone, according to Mayor Tom Arceneux. More than a dozen main transmission lines are still awaiting repair, officials said.
The outage comes after heavy storms over the weekend where winds as strong as 80 mph lashed the south.
About 300,000 customers across the region are still without power as crews scramble to repair broken poles and downed wires.
Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum said at a city news conference that a man who was using a respirator died from the power outage.
A fallen tree from Saturday night’s storm lay across Quincy Avenue near 13th Street on top of a parked car Tuesday.
Shirtless men look at their phones at White Rock Lake in Dallas on Tuesday
Diamond Black sits with a towel over her head in the shade on Monday, June 19, 2023 in Austin, Texas.
A Houston Astros fan uses a hand fan to keep cool while waiting to enter Minute Maid Park for a baseball game in Houston, Texas, Saturday.
Power suppliers warned that some outages may not be fixed until the end of the week, and Bynum urged residents to remember family and neighbors who depend on electronic medical equipment.
‘Please check them,’ he said.
In Louisiana, officials closed about two dozen state offices Monday because of the threat of severe weather. On top of the outage, a heat wave continued to bring dangerous triple-digit temperatures to Texas, and parts of the state were under an extreme heat warning that will continue through at least Wednesday.
‘It was unbearable,’ Leigh Johnson, a resident of Mount Vernon, Texas, told Dallas television station KXAS. He did not get electricity for almost three days.
‘It’s scary because it’s like, the heat index has gotten so bad that, literally, we have to sit in cold baths to cool ourselves down. Even our animals, we have to keep them in bathtubs to protect them from heat stroke, it’s so bad,’ he said.
Power outages also extended into Mississippi, where some people had trouble getting medicine after the power forced pharmacies and grocery stores to close, according to WLBT-TV. As crews worked to restore power in Mississippi, multiple tornadoes swept through the state overnight into Monday, killing one person and injuring nearly two dozen.
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