Living Through the Snow
This is mostly a photographic post and a write-up at the end. These photos start Sunday afternoon February 14th and end February 19th. All of the snow was basically gone by Saturday and a few chunks of ice that had fallen off the roof and into the flower beds were gone on Sunday.
The two photos above were taken about 3:30 am when I got up to see if it was snowing. The glowing in the background of the second photo is a heat lamp on our lemon tree. We had a similar set up on the three citrus in the backyard.
What a whirlwind last week was. I think back to waking up about 1:30am on Monday February 15th after some sleet started pelting the windows and thinking that there had better snow at some point! We had missed the snow back in January and that certainly would have been better timing phenology wise. After looking outside and not seeing snow, I got on to Weather Underground and saw that the storm was entering into the Brazos Valley—we were next and it was certainly coming. Chris was still skeptical as he rolled back over to sleep. I mean, how many times do we get told something is going to happen in regards to snow, especially here on the fringes of Houston where we live—we are just far enough north to almost get weather events but we often fall into the Houston heat sink and then the weather changes. But at 3:30am when I woke up, the snow was falling heavily and I was amazed at how much the landscape had changed in two hours.
And of course somewhere around 4:30am the power went out and didn’t come back on until 3:45pm on Tuesday, and then it was only temporary as we had rolling blackouts after a few hours of the power returning. Finally, the power stayed on permanently around 9:45am on Wednesday. I’ll just say this, I’ll take a hurricane power outage over a deep freeze power outage. It isn’t like a hurricane power outage doesn’t come without its own issues—it is hot and sticky and things are a disaster but the pipes don’t freeze (ok, you may not have a house with pipes after a hurricane, so there’s that!) and you don’t have to wear four layers of clothes in your own house and three blankets to sit on top of you while you are at it. It’s miserable all around.
I mean, we certainly made the best out of it and had fun while we could. Forest didn’t particularly enjoy being cold so we didn’t spend a lot of time outside the first day. It was sunnier on Tuesday and we bundled him up in as many layers as possible and tried to keep him appeased so we could throw snowballs and walk around the neighborhood to see how everything was faring. The cell power outage was probably one of the most frustrating aspects until we figured out that we could power our internet router with the generator once we got that up and going. Phone calls went through which is how I managed to contact my parents initially, not long after their power went out (and stayed out until late Thursday afternoon). Texts were torturous to send and receive. More often than not a red undeliverable signal would come back, and forget even trying to send photos—even after we got the wifi up, sending photos was not going to happen over a text. Those bounced constantly. Without the cell service we couldn’t find out how bad the power outages were, much less what was happening in the rest of the state. Finally, with the wifi we could see the devastation across the state—the beautiful snow coverage but the terrible human toll it was going to have on folks.
One thing we realized and something we’ve kind of pondered before, is that we need a generator to power our well. At first we thought about getting a second generator for it because it has a different voltage system than our current generator but I think we may just upgrade a bit so we can handle the well and household appliances. And it isn’t like we would need to be running the generator constantly during a summer event because the pipes wouldn’t freeze then, but it would certainly be handy in these extreme temperatures again. A few years ago it got to 19* and we had a minor issue that Chris managed to unfreeze on the well itself but hopefully with our new well-house that brief low point wouldn’t be as big of an issue as several days with temperatures in single digits and the teens.
I think at some point in the near future I will work on an emergency preparedness post because I think a lot of folks didn’t really think anything was going to happen with this storm. And there were plenty of people who managed to have power on the entire time only to end up with a boil water notice later and they didn’t have any kind of stockpile of good water from when they had the chance.
A week later and grocery stores are still trying to recover. Chris did the first grocery store run once things were a bit back to normal and that was still a few days after the power was on fully. We read plenty of stories on NextDoor of how bad the grocery stores were in regards to perishable items. But even a few days later Chris said it was even worse than the early pandemic days. I went to one store on Sunday and even they didn’t have any bread yet and water was still sparse as not all public water systems are totally back on line yet. I popped back into that store again mid-week and there were a few rows of white bread but if you needed anything fancier you were out of luck.
The snow was fun, the power outage not so much. And after reading how we were 4 minutes and 37 seconds from complete grid collapse—well, I’m really glad we aren’t sitting in that disaster right now.
By this last weekend we were back to our more seasonable 60s and 70s and even the low 80s for some parts of the state. I was in my garden earlier this week pulling some weeds and felt the heat beating down on me and knew that we weren’t but maybe six weeks from seeing our first 90* day. That’s Texas for you.
PS: Abbott and Cruz have to go the earliest chance we get. Cornyn does too but he was just re-elected and we’ve got six more years with him, unfortunately. At the same time, the we’ve got to flip the state house as well. So, remember this next election season.
Patrice La Vigne
I agree with you. So much of America is not prepped for these wild weather swings. Sure it may only happen once in awhile, but they can wreak so much havoc on things you would never think of.
My dad invested in a whole house generator in 2011 after Hurricane Sandy hit NJ hard & they were without power for 7 days in October. We all thought he was insane for the amount of money it cost. But, 10 years later and with him gone, I am SO happy he set my mom up for emergency preparedness in this way. I think she’s lost power in winter storms like 5 times this winter, but she wouldn’t even know because of the generator system is pretty flawless.
We have all sorts of well issues here in Alaska, as you can imagine. Which is why most people don’t connect running water to their cabins!!!