Harris County residents should prepare for record-low temperatures and extended power outages in the next couple of days, Judge Lina Hidalgo warned at a press conference Monday afternoon.

More than 1 million customers of CenterPoint Energy, which provides power to much of the Greater Houston area, were without power as of the Feb. 15 press conference around 5 p.m. But neither county officials nor CenterPoint officials could estimate when power would be restored for these families and individuals, she said.

“And in fact, as much as we wish it weren't so, things will likely get worse before they get better,” Hidalgo said. “There's a high chance the power will be out for these folks until the weather gets better, which will not be for a couple of days.”

Hidalgo said the only ways power supply will come back is if the state supplies more power or if residents conserve power.

Jason Ryan, senior vice president of regulatory services and government affairs at CenterPoint Energy, said the state experienced an “unprecedented” drop in the availability of electric generation, triggering rolling outage protocols.

“We understand that additional generation could come on, but additional generation could also go offline this evening. We don't have perfect information and insight into the companies that operate those generation facilities, and that's why I understand your frustration and share that frustration,” he said at the press conference. The power at a Harris County Public Health facility storing 8,430 COVID-19 vaccines lost power early Monday morning, and Hidalgo said these were either distributed to other health care facilities in the region or stored for future distribution.

While a few small traffic accidents have occurred due to hazardous road conditions, Hidalgo said no traffic fatalities have occurred as of 5 p.m. Feb. 15.

Officials said residents should keep several things in mind as below-freezing temperatures continue and another winter storm is slated for Tuesday night:

  • Stay off the roads to prevent traffic accidents.

  • Do not bring outdoor grills inside as this poses a risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • If running a vehicle to stay warm, do so in the driveway and not in an enclosed garage.

  • Those who still have a water supply should store enough water for the next few days.

  • Residents with power should keep thermostats at 68 degrees or lower to reduce strain on the power grid.

  • Residents without power should wear layers and blankets to stay warm, cover draft sources and stay indoors.

  • If residents should lose sensation in limbs, feel light-headed or experience other symptoms of hypothermia, they should call 911.