Brutally Cold Weather Reaches the Southern United States, Claiming Dozens of Lives


Dangerously low temperatures have overtaken much of the United States in the past week, including areas in the South like Florida and Texas. While these below freezing temperatures are expected to pass in the coming days, the effects they have had on Americans are not as transient. It has had especially negative impacts on areas not accustomed to such cold weather. One of these places is Tennessee, which recorded 26 out of the 67 temperature-related deaths this month in the United States. In Memphis, water lines not built for the extreme cold broke throughout the city. The widespread pipe defects led to a severe reduction in water pressure throughout Memphis and left many without water at all. With several roads blocked, many had to rely on stores of bottled water until help could arrive. Those who were able to drive had the option of visiting one of the seven bottled water distribution centers emergently opened throughout Memphis. The burst pipes also led to concerns about contamination, meaning that the water that was available to homes wasn’t immediately drinkable. Instead, the over 40,000 customers of Memphis Light, Gas, and Water company were instructed to boil tap water to prevent water-borne illnesses. However, this may have been a challenge for those affected by power or gas outages, which were also issues faced in the extreme winter weather. Even on the usually warm West Coast, power lines were threatened by a buildup of ice. 

The low temperatures also posed financial challenges for many Americans. Businesses had to close, and road closures prevented people from going into work. Even as the temperatures begin to rise, these obstacles may remain. Thawing ice may cause slippery roads and additional hazards as large pieces of ice break off. Hopefully, once the country recovers from this surge of winter weather, infrastructure will be updated to better handle these increasingly frequent extreme weather events.

To read the full article by Adrian Sainz of the Associated Press, click here


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