Tornadoes, historic cold across U.S. kill seven, disrupt COVID-19 vaccinations

By Barbara Goldberg and Peter Szekely NEW YORK (Reuters) - Killer tornadoes in the U.S. Southeast and historic subzero cold as far south as Texas were blamed on Tuesday for seven deaths and massive power outages that canceled COVID-19 inoculations and threatened to disrupt vaccine supplies

Reuters February 17, 2021 00:10:43 IST
Tornadoes, historic cold across U.S. kill seven, disrupt COVID-19 vaccinations

Tornadoes historic cold across US kill seven disrupt COVID19 vaccinations

By Barbara Goldberg and Peter Szekely

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Killer tornadoes in the U.S. Southeast and historic subzero cold as far south as Texas were blamed on Tuesday for seven deaths and massive power outages that canceled COVID-19 inoculations and threatened to disrupt vaccine supplies.

Treacherous weather will maintain its grip on many parts of the United States from Tuesday through Friday, with up to 4 inches of snow and freezing rain expected from the southern Plains into the Northeast, forecasters said.

"We're calling it Storm System No. 2, with very similar placement to the previous storm," said meteorologist Lara Pagano of the National Weather Service's Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. She was referring to a system that blasted the nation through the long Presidents Day holiday weekend, dumping snow and ice from Ohio to the Rio Grande.

An Artic air mass that descended over much of the country pushed temperatures to historic lows on Tuesday, Pagano said. In Lincoln, Nebraska, a reading of minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 35 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday shattered a record set in 1978 of minus 18F (minus 27C).

In typically toasty Dallas-Fort Worth, minus 1F (minus 17C) broke a record set in 1903 of 12F (minus 11C).

"That's what people are waking up to this morning: It's just dangerous," Pagano said.

Crippled by more than 4.4 million power outages in Texas alone, authorities shut down inoculation sites and scrambled to use 8,400 vaccines that require subzero refrigeration before they spoiled after a backup generator failed, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. Doses were rushed to area hospitals and Rice University to be injected into the arms of people already at those locations and who didn't have to travel on slick roads.

Icy roads were blamed for one of the four deaths tied to the bitter cold. The others were identified as a homeless person and two carbon monoxide poisoning victims, said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.

In the Southeast, a low-pressure system that developed along the Arctic front created fuel for storms that unleashed at least four tornadoes, said meteorologist Jeremy Grams of the weather service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. One ripped through the Florida Panhandle and two through southwestern Georgia on Monday.

The fourth, most severe twister left three dead and homes flattened after it swept overnight through North Carolina's coastal Brunswick County in the state's southeastern corner between Wilmington and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the local sheriff's office said early on Tuesday.

After a brief lull on Tuesday that may allow authorities to assess damage, rough weather - including potential twisters - was expected to return on Wednesday into Thursday, Grams said.

"Those very same areas could be impacted - that will include tornadoes and damaging winds," he said.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Peter Szekely in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.