Feb 15, 2021

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 363 words, a 1.5-minute read.

  • ⚡️Breaking: House Speaker Pelosi says Congress will establish a 9/11-type commission to look into the Capitol riot. Read the letter.

Situational awareness: The World Health Organization granted emergency authorization to the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

1 big thing: North Pole, USA
A mass vaccination clinic is covered in snow and ice in Midland, Texas. Photo: Eli Hartman/Odessa American via AP

Records are falling across the central U.S. today, with snow in Houston and extremely dangerous low temperatures across the plains states.

The big picture: "More than 50 million people could see temperatures dip below zero during the next several days as the record-setting deep freeze envelops the country," WashPost reports.

  • Millions are without power in Texas and neighboring states.
  • A group of utilities across 14 states called for rolling outages because the supply of reserve energy had been exhausted, AP reports.
  • Nearly 3 million Texans lack power as of this afternoon.

Between the lines: The Gulf States are used to hurricanes, not polar vortexes. The entire state of Texas has been placed under a disaster declaration.

The bottom line: "Grand Forks, N.D., hadn't reported a temperature above zero since Feb. 6 and probably won't until at least Monday afternoon," the Post noted.

2. Scenes from the cold
Screenshot: Twitter

Above: Snow on the beach in Galveston, Texas. (Video)

Below: Workers try to clear airport runways in Nashville, Tennessee.

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
3. Catch up quick

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala today at her home in Potomac, Md. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

  1. New WTO head: Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala will head the World Trade Organization. She will be the first African and first woman in the job. (AP)
  2. The Kremlin says Elon Musk's Clubhouse invitation is "very interesting" but wants more details. (Reuters)
  3. Far-right-friendly social network Parler says it is coming back online after going dark for more than a month. Go deeper.
  4. Industrial "forever chemicals" may face new regulations under the Biden administration. Go deeper.
  5. President Biden reopened the federal health insurance marketplace for three months. Go deeper.
4. 1 warmer thing
Chileno Bay Resort, Los Cabos, Mexico. Photo: Auberge Resorts

The latest round of COVID-19 lockdowns sent people scurrying anywhere warm, many of them not planning to return until they can get a vaccine, Bloomberg reports.

  • "East Coast clients flock to luxury hotels and resorts in Florida, South Carolina, and Turks and Caicos Islands..."
  • "... West Coast clients flee to Arizona and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo in Mexico—anywhere with equally good weather and Wi-Fi."

The big picture: "Extended-stay discounts, the reopening of certain international borders, and better awareness on the precautions to take when traveling have further enabled a second-wave exodus."