The Mercury News Weekend
Frustrated Texans endure storm with no power or heat
>> Thousands of frustrated Texans shivered in their homes Thursday after more than a day without power, including many in the state capital, as an icy winter storm that has been blamed for at least 10 traffic deaths lingered across much of the southern U.S.
Even as temperatures finally pushed above freezing in Austin — and were expected to climb past 50 degrees today — the relief will be just in time for an Arctic front to drop from Canada and threaten northern states.
New England in particular is forecast to see the coldest weather in decades with wind chills that could dive lower than minus 50.
Across Texas, 430,000 customers lacked power Thursday, according to PowerOutage.us. But the failures were most widespread in Austin, where frustration mounted among more than 156,000 customers over 24 hours after their electricity went out, which for many also meant their heat.
Power failures have affected about 30% of customers in the city of nearly a million at any given time since Wednesday.
Allison Rizzolo, who lost power in Austin, told KEYE-TV that she wished there were more clarity from the city on what to do or expect.
“I get that there's a fine line between preparedness and panic, but I wish they'd been more aggressive in their communications,” Rizzolo said.
For many Texans, it was the second time in three years that a February freeze — temperatures were in the 30s Thursday with wind chills below freezing — caused prolonged outages and uncertainty over when the lights would come back on.
As outages dragged on, city officials came under mounting criticism for not providing estimates of when power would be restored and for neglecting to hold a news conference until Thursday.
Mayor Kirk Watson said Thursday the city would review communication protocols for future disasters.