Aerial views of downtown Chicago under a blanket of snow during an historic cold snap that has had the United States in its grip for several days, thanks to an Arctic blast that is causing temperatures to plummet.
READ MORE: Millions of people in the United States are facing frigid, stormy weather, although the number of people without power in the southern state of Texas dropped below a half million on Thursday for the first time in four days.
Electricity in Texas, the country’s second-biggest state, was restored to about 2.5 million people. The head of the cooperative that is responsible for most of the state’s electricity grid said there was progress Wednesday in boosting available power and that officials hoped that soon people would only have to deal with rolling blackouts before service is fully restored.
But the state faced a new problem: no drinkable water. Officials ordered 7 million people, about a quarter of the state’s population, to boil tap water before drinking it because of damaged infrastructure and frozen pipes.
The massive storm system has been blamed for at least 30 deaths in the U.S. this week. In the Houston area, the Associated Press reported that one family died from carbon monoxide poisoning because of car exhaust in their garage, while a grandmother and three children were killed by flames that escaped the fireplace they were using to keep warm.