(NEXSTAR) – More than 300 Walmart stores were closed across the country, predominantly in the South and Midwest, as severe winter weather continues to hammer parts of the U.S.
According to a real-time map on the Walmart website, 305 stores were closed as of 1:30 p.m. PST Wednesday. The New York Times reported that up to 500 Walmart stores had closed at one point Tuesday.
In a statement, Walmart said it is actively “tracking the winter weather across the country in real time and have activated the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Walmart Home Office to support associates in the field.”
The statement continued:
“In the EOC, we work directly with logistics, store operations and other teams within the business to align our support plans. Our priority is, and continues to be, the safety of our associates and customers — taking care of them and their families. We’re staying closely connected to our operators in the field to help ensure we’re stocking the appropriate items and keeping track of shipments to deliver for our customers. We have emergency support teams dedicated to helping our stores during critical events and our Merchandising, Replenishment, Supply Chain and Logistics teams are working to have critical supplies and products in store as quickly as possible.”
On Wednesday, utility crews raced to restore power to nearly 3.4 million customers around the U.S. who were still without electricity in the aftermath of the deadly winter storm, and another blast of ice and snow threatened to sow more chaos.
The latest storm front was expected to bring more hardship to states that are unaccustomed to such frigid weather — parts of Texas, Arkansas and the Lower Mississippi Valley — before moving into the Northeast on Thursday.
“There’s really no letup to some of the misery people are feeling across that area,” said Bob Oravec, lead forecaster with the National Weather Service, referring to Texas.
More than 100 million people live in areas covered by some type of winter weather warning, watch or advisory, the weather service said.
More than two dozen people have died in the extreme weather this week, some while struggling to find warmth inside their homes. In the Houston area, one family succumbed to carbon monoxide from car exhaust in their garage. Another perished as they used a fireplace to keep warm.
Record low temperatures were reported in city after city. Scientists say the polar vortex, a weather pattern that usually keeps to the Arctic, is increasingly spilling into lower latitudes and sticking around longer, and global warming caused by humans is partly responsible.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.