Third Winter

There is a meme going around from Texas Storm Chasers (https://texasstormchasers.com/12-seasons-of-texas-second-summer/). According to this, there are 12 seasons in Texas. In order they are:’

  • Winter
  • Fool’s Spring
  • Second Winter
  • Spring of Deception
  • Third Winter
  • The Pollening
  • Actual Spring
  • Summer
  • Hell’s Front Porch
  • False Fall
  • Second Summer
  • Actual Fall

That is a rather good description of what we are in now. I would guess we are in Third Winter. It is now 8:30pm, 44 degrees, and expected to drop to 33 tonight. And this Friday we are expecting to drop down to a low of 28, and they have even said possible snow showers. How’s that for a fun weather pattern? We shall see what happens

Welcome to central Texas weather.

UPDATE: The new forecast says Friday early morning (think 4AM) may be the warmest part of the day. By 4pm we expect to be around 35 degrees, with some possible sleet. That means Saturday morning might be a frigid 24 degrees, but warm up to mid 50’s. Then Sunday could be in the low 70’s. Its Texas folks.

Winter is not gone yet

Yesterday, actually for the past 2 days we have had lovely warm, 80 degree weather. This morning it was all of about 45. And we’re going for a high of maybe 50. Welcome to spring time in central Texas.

To give you an idea of how strange this is, tomorrow night our low should be 33, tonight’s low if 39. Then later this week, Friday we are due to get down to 30, with a low of 32 next Saturday night.

Just for reference, the average last freeze date for this area is Feb. 23, and that was a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure some people are very frustrated, they probably put out transplants figuring freezing nights were behind us. SURPRISE!!

I’m sure some areas are worried about losing crops with this unexpected upcoming cold. And I can’t blame them.

I’ve also notice that the birds are eating seed like its cold. They went through an entire bird feeder since this morning, after leaving it alone for a couple of days. That is what the cold has done to our feathered friends.

UPDATE: its after 4pm, but we made it up to 53 degrees. But make no mistake, the breeze outside has it feeling colder.

Cold front

Once again we have strange weather. We have had a beautiful past few days. Even today we were a warm 70 degrees. I think I saw a short period of 72 today here at the house.

And yet, it is now almost 11PM and we have dropped to 34 degrees. We are expecting to drop to 30. So we will cut our temperature in half today. And tomorrow it will be cool. Tomorrow is only expected to be in the low 50, with a low down to 33.

But the weekend will be back up the 60’s and 70’s. Welcome to the wild weather of central Texas.

Nonetheless, I have made sure that plants are covered and or moved to a warmer spot. Hopefully I will not lose anymore plants. My pink lemon tree took a beating in the cold we had a couple of weeks ago. Even though the tree was covered, some of the ends of the branches were frozen and are now brown. I have cut back some of those branches and they do appear to be alive. So I have moved the pot close to the house, and covered it. With the burnt tips cut off it is easier to move and position in a safe place.

One other thing I am also trying, is I have started some seeds in coconut coir mix. I bought a set of 10 compressed blocks. These came with little containers that your put the compressed blocks in, add warm water, and let them rehydrate. The only thing is that where they do rehydrate, you still need to fluff up the coir. In order to make this easier on me, I have been putting the compressed coir into empty salad containers. Since the grocery store sells salad in these clear plastic type of tubs, with a lid to close, I think it will be a good place to start seeds. I put the blocks in, add water, fluff after they had absorbed water. Then if they are too wet, I can leave the lid off and let water evaporate, but I can put the lid on as necessary in order to keep in warmth, and humidity. Its worth a try.

Its cold

At 8:45 AM my weather station says its 31 degrees outside. The weather station says its 34 with a wind chill of 22. I believe it. We have only a small chance of any precipitation, and at this temperature it might end up freezing on contact. So we have our cold, and its expected to stick around all day, with these below freezing nights for the next couple of days. The apple trees should be happy.

One thing of interest, is Corpus Christi, on the coast, is in a winter warning. That is unusual. Since it is on the coast, the warm water tends to moderate the temperature, so it doesn’t usually get that cold in that area.

I’ll keep updating.

5:15PM UPDATE

I wanted to take my dog out at 4pm for a walk so I went out the back to check the weather. Well, at that time we were getting a fix mix of what I am guessing is sleet. It pings when it hits hard surfaces. It’s been light, no real accumulations, but its still coming down, and the temperature has recently dropped. It hasn’t dropped much, its now 29 degrees (5:15 pm). The highest we reached was 32, but we are still due to get colder, 27 tonight. And considering what we’ve seen today, I bet we do get colder. Oh, and the dog has not been tickled to go outside at all. Just reporting.

11:59PM UPDATE

We’ve have cold, now at almost midnight we are just climbing over 32, but its just below 33 degrees outside. We had what might be called some freezing rain, or maybe not. Cars outside have a sheet of ice on them, but it could just be the light (very light) precipitation and the cold temperatures. But it has been cold. There is just not other way to describe it. It has been cold all day long. And before morning we should get down to 27. The good news is tomorrow should be a balmy 47. We can hope.

Rain?

I’m not sure I would actually call it rain. Its been more of a mist. Yesterday was cold and humid, think 38 degrees and 99% humidity. I know my weather station never showed the temperature get to 40 during the day.

It slowly warmed up over night. Now, at 7:45pm it’s 58 degrees and still 99% humidity. But it is not rain, nothing is really coming down. My weather station shows we’ve had measurable precipitation of 0.16 inches for the day. That’s why I say its more mist than actual rain coming down. Its left things wet, but nothing coming down from the sky, an umbrella would not have been helpful today.

Tomorrow, Sunday we should warm up to 61, and be 50’s to 60’s next week. Monday night, might get down to almost freezing, we’ll see.

I have lost a few annual. The petunias and the geraniums are pretty much frozen. But those plants I put up y the house are doing well – the lemongrass, lemon tree, etc.

More cold

Yesterday we had warm 70+ degree weather. Tonight we have a cold front. Its now 11pm and 32 degrees already. We are forecast for a low of 26, and we might just make that. And yet, tomorrow we should be a high of 52 and low is in the 40’s. And possibly Saturday we may actually get rain. Which mean any plants that are covered need to be uncovered and be allowed to get some rain. Next week we should be back into the 60’s during the day. With any luck we might even get rain a few days next week.

Let’s hope for good weather, even if somewhat warmish weather for January. December was warm, about 11 degrees above normal warm. We’ll see how warm January ends up being.

Another cool down

The weather forecasts have been warning of another cool down. Yesterday, Friday, we had some lovely warm weather. And that is warm weather we’ve had for a few days. But today, its cool and wet. It now just after 2pm, and its 49 degrees outside. Early this morning, I don’t know what time but it was dark, a storm rolled in. We actually had thunder, I’m not sure about lightning, and only a small amount of rain. As of now, 2pm, we’ve only had 0.38 inches of rain. That’s really not much. And the rain came in a slow drizzle type of rain.

But it will be cool to cold the next few days. The low for tonight is forecast to be 36. Tomorrow, Sunday our high is forecast for 49, with a low of 35. None of that should affect many plants. I say many as basil is notorious for dying in cool to cold weather. I don’t trust basil in anything below 40 personally.

But by Monday our high will be back up to 60, with a low of 37. Then we stay in the 60-70’s for highs, with lows mainly in the 50’s. Next Saturday is Christmas and we’re forecast for 76, with a low of 56. Even New Year’s day (the start of 2022) it looks like a high of 66, with a low of 49.

Welcome to this year’s winter in central Texas. At least the start of winter. The rest of the season remains to be seen what transpires.

First freeze

Today we hit a lovely 77 degrees. Though it was a bit humid, it was overall not a bad day outside. I even took my dog out for a nice walk outside.

Tomorrow should be another similar day, warm with a high of possibly 80 degrees. And the evening will be a cool low 50’s.

But typical Texas Saturday we expect a cold front to come in. The daytime temperature will drop to just below 60, with a low expected to be 32. It will be our first freeze of the season here in this area.

Now part of what makes this one of the joys and challenges of gardening here, is it was just the other week I turned the raised beds outside. Why turn them, because the weather had been warm. After turning the beds I sowed seeds. The bak choi and lettuce are already coming up. The bell peppers I transplanted (moved) and the bean plants I moved have taken well to their new homes and have been flourishing. Since I still have pepper plants, and tomato plants in pots and in the ground outside, I will need to see about covering them somehow. I will also plan to move those potted plants on my deck to a more covered area.

But don’t worry. In typical Central Texas style even though Saturday will be cool, by the following Tuesday we will be back into the high 70, then 80’s on Wednesday.

I expect the quick cool down then lovely warm up will lead to some lovely cedar pollen counts. Gotta love Texas.

Spring has sprung

Good news, I’ve finally got a new weather station up. I purchased a weather station (off Amazon) that has temperature, humidity, rain, wind, wind direction, and barometric pressure. The nice thing is this one has a sealed temperature gauge so it can go outside and doesn’t need its own separate housing that I don’t have. It was a bit more expensive, but I like it. The old one has a temperature gauge, but I had no place to put it but on the back patio. That isn’t ideal as its placed close to the house and doesn’t get an accurate temperature. The new weather station, a single larger unit with everything attached to one main unit, is out on a post in the yard.

One problem with the smaller unit is that the wind gauge is in a pot on the deck. The rain gauge is a separate unit that had to be removed when the deck was put in. But because those were close to the house before, they were both affected by wind, which can be blocked by either the house, pots, or a grill. Consequently even now I realize how different the temperature and wind are between the two places, close to the house, and farther out in the yard.

Its hard to imagine that just a month ago we were dealing with snow. But now we are warm, today was in the 70’s and we are due to reach the 80’s in a few days. We haven’t had much in the way of rain, much needed rain. So I would have to say we have definitely left the cold behind us.

As much as people felt we lost a lot of plants in the cold most, by a very large degree, are coming back. For example:

roses, have some dead branches but new growth is already leafing out

blackberries, new leaves already out

swiss chard, ends are freeze burned and dead (it was covered) but it is coming back with a vengence

strawberries, not covered and acting as if nothing happened – they are growing

tomatoes did die

asparagus, already coming up

blueberries, not covered and leafing out now

carrots, still fine, covered loosely and acting as if nothing happened

lettuce, like the swiss chard covered and any place the planket touched is burned and dead, but the rest is growing

grapes, covered with a pot and growing again with new leaves already unfurled

sorrel, did lose some leaves initially but now looks better than before

fig tree, has new growth.

The citrus trees took the hardest hits. They were all covered, two of the groups had Christmas lights around them for warmth. But all took a hard hit with the cold and snow. But nobody seems to be dead. They do have dead leaves but when I bend the branches, they bend they don’t break. When I’ve cut some of the branches it is obvious they are alive, not dead.

As for my succulents, that is where I seemed to lose the most. Some look like they may survive, but they have a large amount of lost leaves and frozen stems. Those may be a total loss. That is where I need to wait and see what might survive.

Today I took a Home Depot run. They had a lot of new products – lots of plants, vegetables, trees, flowering annuals, pots, etc. I picked up some of their veggies, not something I usually do. But they had some veggie basics, for example the tomato was labeled salsa tomato. No other information given, no idea what variety. But they also had heirlooms and other plants. So I picked up tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, and some squash plants. After losing the seeds I had started I felt it was worth it.

After bring the new plants home I immediately put the into their new homes, pots. Some of the little pots I bought have more than one seeding, so I actually gave some of the spare seedlings to a friend.

I believe in sharing the plant love.

Still cold

Well its another cold day in Texas. Its now Wednesday Feb 17, 2021 and we’ve made it through two storms with one more on the way.

Texas has not taken these storms well. Texas has its own power grid and is not equipped to handle this kind of weather, especially since its basically covered the entire state, top to bottom and side to side. I understand even Corpus Christi, by the coast, got snow. I did hear they are planning on calling in help from other states that know how to handle this kind of weather. Lets hope that is true.

I spent part of this time without electricity, it would come on for a while (15 minutes to 4 hours), then go off for a while (2 hours to 4 hours). Think of it as rolling black outs. I had some freezing of a pipe in my garage (from my water softener to the house). It was enough to keep water from entering the house. I was able to thaw it enough to get my water back. I put a space heater aimed at the pipes and left it there for an hour. I was lucky. Even though the power went off, it was enough to thaw the pipe and water began dripping in the faucets. I was actually able to get water dripping in all the faucets. So now I have water again.

Some people have been without water since Monday. Some houses are in the 40’s inside the house because of no electricity. And the state does not yet know when everything will be back to normal.

SO what does this have to do with gardening you ask. Well, think about this. If you have plants outside, covered, maybe you have lights wrapped around them for warmth, those lights require electricity to be on and provide that warmth. No electricity, no lights. Those plants that you have in the greenhouse, again probably with some sort of heater, no longer have that heater. Those seedlings under grow lights don’t have grow lights that are on. And of course you cannot water anything if you don’t have water. Even you indoor plants may take a hit if they have no water and no warmth. Your first concern in these kinds of circumstances is your own survival first, you can replace plants.

Which brings us back to gardening. At this point, all those lovely plants I had outside in pots, even those up against the house are now probably dead. Since I got 7 inches of snow on my deck, and had snow blown all the way up to the house itself, the area next to the house got down into the 20’s, I expect I will be replacing a lot of plants.

I’m thinking of this as an opportunity to just start over, to a degree. I still have raised beds, nothing in one, and seedlings and swiss chard in the other, and I expect nothing will survive this cold. Considering we had one morning where the temperature was 2F, I don’t expect anything in the garden to survive. Maybe I’ll be happily surprised. I’m not sure if my grass even survived. We’ll see.

Not so funny stories. One friend has been staying with someone, no power. Where they are at is down to 43 degrees. Another friend has been without power and they are down to 45 degrees. A news caster mentioned that the TV station offered to put everybody up in a hotel a couple of blocks from the station. Some people took them up on the offer, some did not. One guy who did not said he got home and his place was in the low 40’s because he still had no power.

Since we are two storms down and one more to go, we’ll see how people fare. Grocery store shelves are empty, and grocery stores are on very reduced hours (maybe noon to 5).  Roads vary from ice covered impassable to slush, to this is drivable albeit slowly.

And Sunday we expect to be back into the 60’s.

NOTE UPDATE: they are saying as of 5pm today, Austin has now hit 122 hours at 32 or below. Also, I misspoke, we are in our fifth storm in 7 days. They may be counting since the beginning last Thursday.