Death toll rises as cold and snow knock out power to millions

Extreme weather conditions, which have caused massive power outages, have been blamed for at least 11 deaths in Texas. Omar Villafranca reports.

Video Transcript

NORAH O'DONNELL: We're going to begin tonight with breaking news on that dangerous deep freeze now gripping half the country. The record-breaking Arctic temperatures, snow, and ice have killed at least a dozen people nationwide and left more than 3 million more without power, mostly in places that just aren't used to dealing with the bitter cold. In parts of Texas and Oklahoma, temperatures haven't been this low in 100 years, causing pipes to freeze and then explode, and taxing an electrical grid not designed to heat tens of millions of homes.

The winter weather has also forced vaccination centers to close and is now delaying new doses from being shipped out across the country. Well, as we come on the air, things are only getting worse. Tonight, actually, 27 states are under new winter storm warnings, bracing for a second round of dangerous cold, snow, and ice that will soon move across hard-hit Texas and into the Northeast.

So we have a lot of news tonight for you and your family. CBS' Lonnie Quinn is standing by with the forecast, and our team of correspondents is covering the other major headlines. CBS' is Omar Villafranca is going to lead off our coverage from just North of Dallas. Good evening, Omar.

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: Good evening, Norah. The temperature here is very-- actually very, very, frozen. You can see this is what people are dealing with now in Texas after losing power and freezing temperatures for days. Frozen water, pipes bursting all across the state.

Tonight the South is frozen solid. States struggling to recover from punishing sub-zero temperatures with more wicked weather on the way. The extreme conditions blamed for at least 15 deaths. Medical examiners in Galveston requesting a refrigerated truck after reports of several cold weather-related deaths, Texas' governor calling the storm the winter version of Hurricane Harvey.

Over three million Texans are still without power because the state's grid can't keep up with the demand and millions more are subject to rolling blackouts-- some as long as 30 hours. Residents using blow dryers and heaters to thaw their frozen pipes.

- No water.

The situation is so bad, Tara Davis is leaving the state after she, her husband, and her eight-month-old baby had to huddle around the fireplace to stay warm. They went without power for 30 hours.

TARA DAVIS: It was negative 2 degrees last night. We had her daughter wrapped up in as many pieces of clothing as we possibly could, but we were really scared.

- 42, 44, 46, 48--

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: In Houston, more than 50 cars lined up in search of a warm meal outside a Burger King. Dylan Fluster took his 15-month-old and a three-year-old to a warming station in Plano.

DYLAN FLUSTER: When we woke up this morning and it was still no power, it was like, Oh, I can't keep doing this.

OMAR VILLAFRANCA: Texas is the only state in the Continental US that has its own power grid. It's not regulated by the federal government, and tonight people are angry that it's failed.

- I understand people are very angry that this happened, and I'd say let us get the power back on. Omar Villafranca-- CBS News, Plano, Texas.