DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The entire state of Texas is under a winter storm warning as snow, ice and extremely cold temperatures threaten all 254 counties. And now, a federal emergency declaration has been approved for the state.
Major winter conditions have already arrived through the state as areas, including North Texas, are being blanketed with heavy snow and historically low temperatures.
On Saturday, Gov. Greg Abbott urged every Texan to heed warnings about the winter weather as every area would see either snow or ice within the next few days.
He issued a disaster declaration on Friday for all 254 counties in order to increase response by state agencies to help lessen impacts such as travel and power.
Abbott also said Saturday he requested a federal emergency declaration.
On Sunday, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn asked President Joe Biden to approve the request. They wrote:
"The Governor and local officials have informed us that the severity and magnitude of the storm is beyond the response capabilities of the state and local government. Prolonged sub-freezing temperatures, strained energy capacity, and treacherous roadways are just a few of the current dangers faced by all Texans. In the last three days, there have been 11 crash-related fatalities as road conditions deteriorate. More than 23,000 Texans have lost power, and frozen pipes have impacted water distribution across the state."
"We respectfully urge you to approve the Governor's request for Public Assistance Category B and Direct Federal Assistance for all 254 Texas counties."
The federal emergency declaration was approved Sunday evening, which will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide emergency measures such as mass care and sheltering and direct assistance to all counties.
"I thank President Biden for quickly issuing a Federal Emergency Declaration for Texas as we continue to respond to severe winter weather conditions throughout the state," Abbott said. "This disaster declaration provides Texas with additional resources and assistance that will help our communities respond to this winter weather."
Residents are being asked to avoid travel if at all possible due to hazardous conditions on roads. Icy conditions, along with pockets of snow, have already been seen in areas of North Texas and throughout the state.
All Texans are urged by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the state's power grid, to conserve power use due to "record-breaking electric demand."
"Demand for power is expected to potentially exceed supply during parts of Monday and Tuesday," Abbott said on Saturday. "... We do as a state have the ability to ensure that we do not run out of power. To that, however, we need everybody in the state to pitch in and follow directions about ways we can reduce power usage to make sure that there will be no outage whatsoever."
Tips to reduce power use include turning thermostats to 68 degrees or lower, closing blind or shades to reduce the amount of heat that leaves homes, turning off or unplugging non-essential equipment such as small appliances, and trying to avoid using large appliances during peak hours like the mornings and evenings.
Dangerous wind chills are also being seen through most of the state, which led to rare wind chill warnings.
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