At least 20 die during winter storms across United States

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At least three people were killed when a tornado tore through a seaside town in North Carolina, one of many wild and deadly impacts from a sprawling blast of winter weather across the United States.

The winter storm left millions without power, bringing record-breaking cold weather, overwhelming power grids and immobilizing the Southern Plains.

The National Weather Service says that anyone under a "winter weather advisory" should take caution while traveling and take preventative measures to avoid slick conditions outside.

"In the areas that contend with these devastating ice accumulations, residents can expect risky travel conditions, numerous power outages, and extensive tree damage", it said in its latest update.

About four inches of snow fell at the Dallas airport.

The recorded deaths include people who have died in traffic accidents, as well as some who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning from running cars and generators indoors to stay warm.

Authorities said a fire that killed three young children and their grandmother in the Houston area likely was caused by the fireplace they were using to keep warm. In Galveston, the medical examiner's office requested a refrigerated truck to expand body storage, although County Judge Mark Henry said he didn't know how many deaths there had been related to the weather.

Authorities pleaded with residents to stay home Tuesday.

But hours after those assurances, the number of outages in Texas only rose, at one point exceeding 4 million customers.

"The ultra-low temperatures will last for several days, meaning that what becomes frozen will remain frozen for a long period of time", Abbott said.

The power supply outages in Texas affected millions of people across the border in northern Mexico, where the Associated Press reported nearly 5 million customers were left in the dark.

With more frigid days expected in Texas, where frustration mounted over power outages that weren't expected to be resolved until later Tuesday at the earliest.

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The storm has knocked about a third of the state's generating capacity offline. Forcing controlled outages was the only way to avert an even more dire blackout in Texas, Magness said.

"We did not make it through nearly a year of a pandemic to lose people to a snow or ice storm", Kentucky Gov. Andrew Beshear said, according to Agence France-Presse. Ercot said 600,000 households had power restored overnight. A decade ago, another deep February freeze created power shortages in Texas the same week the Super Bowl was played in Arlington.

Texas' energy grid stands on its own, isolated from the rest of the country and unable to import power from other states.

"Local providers have postponed vaccine clinics because it is not safe for people to be out across much of Texas". Thirty-five warming shelters were opened to accommodate more than 1,000 people around the state, FEMA said during a briefing.

Also killed were a woman and a girl in Houston who suffered carbon monoxide poisoning when they sat in an attached garage while a vehicle was running because there was no heat in their home, KHOU reported.

The outages during this storm far exceeded what ERCOT had predicted in November for an extreme winter event. "Every eight to 10 years we have really bad winters".

There have been widespread blackouts in Texas, where the energy grid was overwhelmed by a surge in demand.

Climate change should be factored in too, he said. By midmorning, 3,000 flights had been canceled across the country, more than half of them in Texas.

"Texas is a gas state", said Michael Webber, an energy resources professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

Vice-President Kamala Harris addressed those who had lost power during a live interview Wednesday on NBC's "Today".

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told CNN Tuesday night that she was been without power or water for around 38 hours. Hidalgo, the top elected official in Houston, said she didn't believe any of the vaccines were lost.

"We're makeshifting", Landry said in an phone interview.

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