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.

Snow

We got snow. And we have another snow shot due tomorrow.

Yup, that actually is 7 inches of snow on my back deck. And its cold. Freezing, 32, is just a hope.

Tomorrow’s storm is due in the evening, around 6pm they are saying.

This storm has left parts of Texas minus power, or rolling power outages, 4 hour outages and some have gotten longer than that. Here, I’ve been on 3-4 hour times without power. I’m also having issues with water. But some neighbors are saying its low pressure. Even the news has said the power companies are having problems. Some of their equipment froze. Yup, this is Texas.

‘Unprecedented shortfall:’ Power outages could last through Tuesday

“Gov. Abbott maintains the power grid is not broken, but said that parts of the grid had to be shut down, including natural gas and coal generators.”

So we will do the best we can. I have fireplace going, candles lit, water bottles ready, and I ate a hot meal when I had the power available. Hopefully we’ll continue having power, and get water back.

I’ll keep updates coming until we get through this.

Cold and getting colder

Okay, Texas is seeing temperatures that are record breaking cold. The cold we started with three days ago is getting even colder. Right now, Sunday Valentines Day, 6pm, it is 19 degrees going for a low of 9 tonight. We are due for snow, which is currently falling ever so small flakes, and blizzard conditions. They are talking about ice and snow accumulations of 5-8 inches.

This was what the forecast was yesterday. Today its not looking any better.

Its strange to see the differences.

We’ve been doing okay here at the house so far. But the suggestion is not to go out, and considering my deck is currently 26, I’m not holding out much hope for things to survive. But the house is still warm, I have power, so I can’t complain. Of course I have more than enough food so I’m not going to starve. Hopefully everything stays on.

One thing I do have to laugh about is usually trash goes out tonight, for pick up Monday morning. But as of right now, 6pm, I can only see two houses with trash out. And I’m not one of them. I’m not going to worry about it. I haven’t seen a car on the road today, and I haven’t seen anybody out walking their dogs. Trying to get my dogs out to the grass hasn’t been easy. They look at me as if I’m nuts, as if to say “mom, you do know how cold it is out there??” They’ve had a couple of accidents, and under the circumstances I’m not making a fuss.

But they will need baths when it warms up.

Still cold

We have had an honest to goodness rain and cold front event. Even though we had 2″ of rain the other day, yesterday we got an additional 1/2″ of rain. And cold weather, as in almost freezing nights cold weather.

Today, New Years Day 2021 it is blue skies, clear, and still a bit on the cold side. Where the forecast says we are going for a high of 52, with these clear skies we are also going for a low tonight of freezing, 32 degrees. We have a light breeze and I don’t see us getting anything in the way of clouds to keep us any warmer than that tonight.

I have covered my lemon trees, at least those I can, with green “planket” cloth, and two trees have lights in them to help keep them warm. Those are outdoor incandescent type Christmas lights. The incandescent lights provide a bit of warmth, LED lights don’t. Since my covered patio area stays warmer, since its covered, I have moved some plants back toward the house to keep them warm.

So the yard is doing okay. I do have a few things to do to it, figure out some planters that just didn’t work (not sure why they didn’t), and I need to pick up more soil and more landscape pins, those things are handy, and I’m already getting my 2021 seed catalogues. So it’s already looking like its time to start thinking of what to plant for this year.

Everybody, welcome to 2021.

FROST!!

We finally have our first real cold snap. Our temperatures have dropped from the 70’s down to low to mid 50’s. And tonight (YEAH!) we should get down somewhere just below freezing. I’ve seen the temperature for tonight rated as anywhere from 27-30, so we’ll just have to see where it gets. But we are due for a cold snap. Since we got rain over the weekend, just shy of 1″ here at the house, we’ve had time to dry out. So I don’t expect a lot of icy roads tomorrow, but it could happen.

In preparation I have covered plants. I have not covered my swiss chard nor my lettuce. I did cover the squash coming up and all the citrus trees. We did get some light wind over the weekend, after I had covered the squash. I ended up putting pieces of wood to help hold down the plankets (you know those plant blankets they sell, more like thin flexible paper than blankets). But I have high hopes for the squash surviving. We’re shooting for a high of 53 here, but by 10pm the temperatures should have already fallen down to mid 30’s.

I’ve also moved plants that were outside on the deck close to the house. Since the area close to the house is covered and sheltered, it does keep a few degrees warmer than out in the open. Its will get chilly, but not quite as cold as those plants out in the yard. Obviously these are plants in pots, including some succulents and my tomatoes.

I will say, I do miss the weather station set up we had at the old house. I may have to figure out how to set up something that will give me that same amount of information. That system showed me the changes in 5 minute increments, so I knew how quickly temperatures dropped. But of course, when we moved, we couldn’t easily move that.

Let’s see what tonight’s weather brings.

UPDATE: its 10:45 pm and it is already 31 degrees outside. It will be a cold night for Austin.

Cold front

The weather in Austin has actually be rather nice the past few days/weeks. I took a long weekend trip earlier this month and came back to 90 degree weather. So Austin has been warm to nice. Nice being mid to high 80’s. But today we have had a cold front come in.

I was out walking the boys (my dogs) a couple of hours ago, just before noon. It was lovely, though a bit overcast. It was warm, a little bit humid, in the mid 70’s, my watch said 76. While walking the boys there was a light breeze. But during this walk I encountered a cool breeze. In a matter of minutes that cool breeze became a cold breeze. Still a breeze, no great strength to it. But the temperature began to drop. I had left wearing jeans, a tee shirt, with a denim shirt (no jacket), and the temperature began enough of a drop for me to begin to get chilled.

Now, just a couple of hours later, the temperature has fallen to 50 degrees per my watch. That’s a 20+ degrees drop in a matter of a couple of hours.

We even had a short shower outside. Not much, it registered as less than 1/2″ of rain. But needless to say, its a cold rain, on now a cold day.

The forecast – rain and mid 40’s for tonight.

As for plants, well I plan to cover the tomatoes or at least bring them in so they are under the patio. Those plants I’m worried about will probably be placed in the same area. Those I’m not worried about, the lettuce, flowers, mint, etc. those can stay outside. Since we don’t expect to get even close to freezing I’m not going to be concerned about them. Yes if it gets cold enough I may lose a few plants. But here in this area first front is due in less than a month, so those plants should be winding down anyways.

Maybe it really is autumn, going into winter here in Austin.