Winter Storms in Texas Killed at Least 57 People, Mostly by Hypothermia, State Says

Published in 17 March, 2021

At a Glance

  • The state’s health department is tallying the number of lives lost during the February storms.

  • Twenty-five deaths happened in Harris County.

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning also caused deaths.

Two winter storms that paralyzed much of Texas last month killed at least 57 people, according to figures released by the state’s health department.

Most of the deaths were associated with hypothermia, the Texas Department of State Health Services said Monday in a news release. Other causes of deaths during the storms included motor vehicle accidents, carbon monoxide poisoning, medical equipment failure, falls and fire.

The back-to-back winter storms in mid-February were also blamed for deaths in Oregon, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Texas was hit particularly hard when the state’s power grid collapsed because of the frigid temperatures and a huge demand for electricity. More than 4 million homes and businesses lost power at the height of the crisis.

More than 1 million customers were left without electricity for days and hundreds of thousands had no running water.

Hypothermia and carbon monoxide poisoning cases rose as the dire conditions dragged on.

Calling it a “disaster within a disaster,” Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said there were at least 300 calls regarding carbon monoxide poisoning in her county.

Harris County has confirmed at least 25 deaths because of the storm, the state figures show.

One thing that remains unclear: whether or not any deaths in Dallas County – the state’s second-most populous county – were blamed on the winter storms. Dallas County was not included in Monday’s release, but a March 1 report from the Dallas Morning News said the county’s medical examiner was investigating as many as 17 deaths that could have been caused by the winter storms.

“We’ll probably never have a really accurate number,” Dr. Jeffrey Barnard, Dallas County medical examiner, told the Morning News in the March 1 report.

The health department said the data is preliminary and subject to change as additional information is gathered and additional deaths are verified.

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