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Energy & Environment
Central Texas experienced historic winter weather the week of Feb. 14, with a stretch of days below freezing. Sleet followed snow followed freezing rain, leading to a breakdown of the electric grid and widespread power outages. Water reservoirs were depleted and frozen pipes burst, leaving some without service for days.

Texas Winter Storm Death Toll Goes Up To 210, Including 28 Deaths In Travis County

Ice hangs from an electricity and energy reader.
Julia Reihs
/
KUT
Ice hangs from an electricity and energy reader in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Austin.

The Texas Department of State Health Services on Wednesday updated its official tally of deaths linked to the historic freeze in February and now says 210 people across the state died because of the winter storm and the resulting blackouts.

The update represents an increase of 59 deaths from the agency's previous count.

DSHS said most of the victims died of hypothermia. Vehicle crashes, carbon monoxide poisoning and chronic medical conditions complicated by the storm were other leading causes of deaths between Feb. 11 and March 5, the agency said.

Last week, the Travis County Medical Examiner's office released its final report on the deaths that occurred during the winter storm. While the medical examiner's findings did not attribute any of the deaths directly to the freeze, state's officials update on Thursday said the number of deaths in Travis County linked to the winter storm was 28, the second highest in the state.

Harris County had 43 freeze-related deaths, the most in the state. Dallas County followed Travis County with 20, according to the tally.

The state's official count might be an underestimation of the actual death toll. A Buzzfeed analysis in May suggested the number of deaths could be over 700.

DSHS has said it will continue to update its tally as it receives more death certifications from local medical examiners.

February's catastrophic storm left as many as 4 million Texans without power and threw into harsh relief the deficiencies in the state's electric system. Lawmakers passed legislation to increase the reliability of the state's power grid, but some have argued they didn't go far enough.

Gov. Greg Abbott said last month state lawmakers had done "everything that needed to be done" to fix the grid, though he later ordered the Public Utility Commission of Texas to take steps to overhaul the state’s electric system. He did not include grid reforms in his agenda for the special legislative session that started last week.

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