Winter Storm Bingo

Well, it’s been quite an experience. As a neighbor said yesterday, “I’m tired of living through a historical event.” But power is coming back, and boiling water is a small price to pay for having water. Yesterday, I found clear and dry roads: a far cry from what Texas experienced for days.

Austin, Texas

To say that Texas cities aren’t equipped for snow removal is an understatement. On the other hand, at least one Texan has a sense of humor.

Out in the country, substituting tractor tires (or hay bales) and chains for snow plows helps to clear the roads.

Bandera County

Of course, not everyone was able to travel.

Galveston Island

Some decided that walking was the better option.

Austin

Between checking the temperature and charging their cell phones in the car, a lot of people played Winter Storm Bingo — but you had to cross off every square to win.

Eventually, some areas began to thaw, roads cleared, and the lines at generator-powered fast food restaurants stretched for blocks.

Despite it all, the beauty was memorable. These photos, taken by Will Leverett at or near Stillwaters Ranch in Llano County, tell the tale. Located near the Willow City Loop and Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, they celebrate a rarely seen view of the Texas landscape.

This is not a Longhorn. It’s a modern American breed: Ankole-Watusi

I’d like to see such sights in person one day, although, to be honest, I’d prefer seeing them with a functioning power grid to keep things a little more comfortable at home.

Comments always are welcome.
Photos other than Will Leverett’s were being widely shared online, without attribution.

110 thoughts on “Winter Storm Bingo

  1. This past week has given true meaning to the phrase, “You don’t know what you have until you lose it.”
    As Texas thaws, the work of getting back to “normal” will be a long one, requiring lots of patience.
    Hopefully, for most, a look back will create more laughter and fodder for stories retold among families.
    (Aren’t we glad that 2020 is behind us…).

    1. As we headed toward last New Year’s Day, I suspected that anyone hoping for an entirely fresh and lovely 2021 was going to be disappointed, but I never imagined this. The good news is that I began to imagine it about a week out, and got busy preparing. That preparation, combined with some luck, made the experience more bearable than it was for many.

      Now, we wait to see how the fish fared — and the turtles. There are about 5,000 cold-stunned turtles waiting it out in a South Padre Convention Center, and more up and down the coast.

    1. After the winters of ’83 and ’89, I’m not surprised by the cold as much as I am by the widespread nature of it. Having every county in the state under a winter storm advisory at the same time was extraordinary. That’s part of what’s made it so difficult. Hurricanes and tornadoes, however strong they may be, don’t affect the whole state, and unaffected parts can help out. This time, that wasn’t possible.

  2. The hardest time I had during my two-mile round-trip walk to and within Great Hills Park was the final stretch on my own street, which was and still is as iced-over as any portion of the route. It didn’t help that after two hours of slogging around on ice and crusted snow I was tired.

    1. Just trying to keep balance is tiring. I think I’m going to add some YakTrax or similar ice-walking devices to my little collection of winter gear. My neoprene-soled boots weren’t bad, but they could have been better. You did well to manage a couple of hours in your ‘wonderland.’

  3. Keeping a sense of humor and appreciating the beauty has been tough at times, but those images prove it was possible. The country scenes look like the view from my bluff in Bandera County. I love the guy dragging the hay bales and the bingo card.

    1. I saw some other videos of snow in your county. I’m almost positive one was made at Bandera Pass; the outline of the hills sure looked familiar. There were at least three versions of the bingo card produced. This was the first. Subsequent cards became, shall we say, less appropriate for family-friendly blogs.

      There was quite a discussion that went on about whatever was being dragged behind the truck. I went with the tractor tires because of the tread-like apperance of the edges, but no one even mentioned hay bales. That makes the most sense now, and I revised the post to include the possibility.

        1. After deep analysis, I’ve decided for the tires. Hay bales probably would be too light to clear much of anything, and would degrade as they’re pulled. Who would imagine that we’d be sitting around thinking about such things? Clever of someone to think of the technique, that’s for sure!

  4. I’m glad you are OK and wise enough not to be out shooting photos in all this, unless it is of your own sweet squirrels. I suspect you might not even have tall boots but I hope you have warm coats and blankets. And if you can boil water, you must have power, which means heat, so that’s good. I’ve been fretting about my Texas friends all week. Keep those batteries charged, my friend. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing some lovely pix soon, unless it melts super fast (and that can be a whole different problem.) Take care.

    1. I sure do have boots — knee highs, that I wear even in summer when I’m out slogging around in the marshes. And I not only have coats (and gloves and hats and scarves), I can layer long underwear on top of long underwear. After all, working outdoors in winter can be a little nippy, even though I usually hang it up when it hits about 40F.

      We only got an inch of sleet and snow to go along with our cold, so there wasn’t much ‘pretty’ here to see. In fact, most of it will be gone today. It’s 38F now, and headed for 48F. By Sunday, we’ll be back to 60F. That kind of temperature swing is pretty normal, although it usually happens after two or three days, rather than ten. It’s sunny and beautiful this morning, and the robins are out hopping around the yard, so I think we’re going to improve fast.

  5. As a Mainer, I have been watching from afar with great sympathy. Up here, we are prepared for lots of snow and cleaning up after a big storm isn’t usually a problem. However, ice storms throw a spanner in the works no matter where you live, and an ice storm prediction is always a cause for panic. We were without power for 11 days during the Great Ice Storm of ’98, and for us, no power means no water. Your storm has proven that no matter where you live, being prepared, the best that you can, for emergencies, is essential. Easier, of course, for homeowners who aren’t on a shoestring budget.

    1. Are you on a well? Some of my friends are, and they can have complications beyond those brought on by broken pipes. Then there’s the issue of livestock water, which is a whole other world, and mostly beyond my ken. I just know that when I got up a couple of mornings ago I had a variety of birds huddled around their water-turne-ice bowl, giving me the evil eye. Eleven days is a looong time.

      You’re right that being prepared is key. Eighteen gallon tubs filled with utility water? Check. Gallons of drinking water? Check. Likewise, high capacity power banks, refilled prescriptions, salt for sidewalks and steps, a full gas tank, battery lanterns, and windshield washer solution rated for 0 degrees, rather than water. It’s like getting ready for cold hurricane. For apartment dwellers it’s actually a little easier, but it’s not really ‘easy’ for anyone. It’s 48F right now, and 48 never looked so good.

  6. Great set of shots, I especially love the longhorn–he looks like he’s just fine and I’m glad that there are no icicles hanging from those impressive horns of his. Glad you’re okay, so are we. We only lost power for about an hour, a week ago, before things got really bad. One of our pipes froze Sunday into Monday, but we caught it early and were able to thaw it. I’d dripped it initially, but after that–it’s run at a constant stream. In these temperatures, drips don’t cut it. We’re boiling water-but we have it.

    The snow has been beautiful, I’ve never experienced this before, so that’s something. The sun is out this morning, we’re supposed to be above freezing, though there is another freeze tonight. Today and tomorrow are my Project Feederwatch days; it’ll be the first time I’ve been able to report depth of snow and ice. Stay warm and safe!

    1. I didn’t know it at first, but I learned that the beastie isn’t a longhorn; it’s an Ankole-Watusi, a modern American breed derived from the Ankole group of Sanga cattle from central Africa. I was delighted to identify it, because I found a group of them off Highway 71 near Garwood a couple of years ago, and I’d wondered what they were.

      I’m so glad you got to experience the snow, although your garden surely isn’t very happy. It’ll be interesting to see what survives and what doesn’t. It looks like our lows aren’t going to dip below about 45 after tonight, so I may spend tomorrow moving plants out and doing various outside chores — just so I can clean up inside the house.

  7. There was definitely a different sense of the storm from the east Texans that I follow online—out enjoying the weather and also having power because they were on a different power system. We enjoyed it as best as we could, but wow, what a whopper.

    1. I saw a graph yesterday that showed the east and west Texas counties that are served by those other grids. It was very interesting to see the minimal outages in the non-ERCOT areas. We certainly made up for it. It’s good that power’s mostly restored now, but the water issues are going to take time to resolve. I just read that they’re having problems in Mississippi and Tennessee, too. Don’t I remember something about an Infrastructure Week that was supposed to address all this? (Never mind!)

      Here’s a fun tidbit from the highway department. The Hartman bridge over the ship channel was closed this morning because of ice. The road itself was fine, but they were afraid all the ice falling from the cables could do real damage if it fell on passing cars.

    1. Isn’t that a great photo? It’s a beautiful day today, with beautiful blue skies and sunshine. Nearly all of the snow and ice is gone here, but it’s still a little chilly. I’m content to stay indoors and do indoorsy chores today. This weekend, we’re supposed to be at 60F by Sunday afternoon, and that sounds like a perfect time to get out and about.

  8. I’m tired of these historical events, too, and more than ready for boring routine. I’m still chuckling over those hardy folks walking along the highway. And that poor owner of the icicle-covered SUV just might have to wait until Spring thaws for safe driving again. And oh, that poor Longhorn looks as confused as I imagine a lot of Texans are right now. Stay safe, Linda!

    1. Isn’t routine nice? Little by little, things are getting back to something approaching normal — in my town, at least. The library is open today, trash pickup is back on schedule, and the Covid vaccinations that had to be postponed during the worst of the weather have begun again, so they can get everyone caught up. . Next week, I’ll get my second, and be done with that. I’m really glad I live in Galveston County; we’re one of the most vaccinated in the state, and one of the most tested. They’re doing a great job with it.

      1. You’re so fortunate, Linda! Hope the second dose “sits” well with you (my bro-in-law got knocked on his backside from his … but only for less than 24 hours). Glad things are starting to return to routine for you!

    1. I debated whether it was “too soon!” since there still are parts of the state (and other states, too) where the problems are critical, but a little humor never hurts. The time for serious talks about how to tend to our infrastructure will come (I hope) but right now just getting through this episode’s enough. It’s 48F down on Galveton Island now, so I do hope the owner of that ice-covered car is finding not too much damage once it melts. I’m not sure how the bicycles will have fared.

    1. We’re stair-stepping our way out of it. Today, it will be 48F, tomorrow 52F, and Sunday 62F. It looks like we’ll hold in the 50s for a while, but no more freezes are projected. Happy? Oh, yes!

  9. Thanks for the comic relief. We’re not nearly as bad off as our neighbors to the south but we’re definitely ready for the predicted 67 degrees on Tuesday.

    1. Oh, that sounds good. We’re only going to be in the upper 50s then, but at this point people are walking their dogs without coats in 38 degrees, and being happy about it. Everything’s relative, for sure.

  10. Things really can look beautiful, Linda, can’t they? All is glistening outside again this morning. But I agree: conditions for very many people are hard indeed, and one would really love to have a working power grid. Here, we were lucky: we only had power outages twice, once for 3 and once for 4 hours – nothing to be worried about.
    Now, all the trees and the roofs are dripping. Let’s hope we’ll get more thawing through the day, for the sake of our trees.
    Take care, and have a great weekend,
    Pit
    P.S.: we love that pictures of the Austin snow removal machine. It’s hilarious.

    1. I checked the Mesonet stations around you, and it looks like you’re good to go, with 39F-42F common. That’s melty weather, for sure, especially in the sun. Don’t stand under any icicles! They closed the Fred Hartman bridge today because of ice: not on the roadway, but falling from all the cables that support the bridge. It’s easy to see how that could be a problem.

      Isn’t that ‘snowplow’ great? The guy who created the bingo cards posted it. He’s done a good job of keeping us amused through this.

      1. Just now, at shortly before 6PM, it is still thawing. It will go below 3 for the night, but then, from tomorrow on, it should stay above freezing.
        Thx for the link.

  11. Thanks for sharing the photos! We did not have the predicted freeze last night and the sun is out so maybe there is a warming trend. We were fortunate and had it better than so many people. Still I am tired of living through history – the pandemic was enough! May venture out today to HEB.

    1. If you went to HEB, I hope you didn’t have to contend with the kind of lines we’ve had around here. I’ve yet to find myself lacking anything, and I think I have enough bottled water to last through the need to boil water. They think we may be done with that by Monday or so.

      It’s been amazing to see how many turtles have been rescued — thousands of them. The Convention Center in South Padre has been turned over to the turtles. Next, we see what’s happened to the fisheries.

    2. I just heard the most amazing story. A 90+ year old father of an acquaintance lives on Ocean Drive in a condo. They were without power for four days, with the elevators out, and the father couldn’t walk down the stairs. The son lives on Padre and couldn’t make it across the bridge. They finally got a hot meal to his dad yesterday. The dad said, “Son, I ate every bit of food in this place.” He came through it fine.

  12. Where did you find that photo of the Austin snowplow? That is hilarious! I never needed one this week, but I feel I want it just so that I can park it in the driveway and drive the neighborhood crazy on cold winter nights.

  13. great photos! almost all the snow/ice has melted here though the bird baths will freeze up again today. the layer of ice on the turtle pond is gone and I could see Big Mama down there. I rapped on the side and she moved a leg so she’s OK.

    1. I’m so glad that Big Mama made it through. Have you seen anything about the great turtle rescue on South Padre? I can’t even imagine so many being pulled from the water, but thank goodness they were. I saw a lot of mushy bananas today, but I must say some of the browned Sego palms were pretty. I don’t know if they’ll come back or not. The queen palms generally don’t make it, especially if they have some size. Of course, those are here compliments of the landsscapers and their clients, so they’re more fragile in the cold.

    1. Well, yes: at least to the extent that the footage is of people with jugs and buckets gathered around the community “wells” — the backs of trucks with water tanks. Broken plumbing isn’t that surprising here. Every couple of years we get a freeze that requires the drip-faucets-wrap-pipes routine, but it usually it doesn’t last this long, or get this cold. The two episodes I remember best are ’83 and ’89: terrible long stretches with horrid fish kills and lots of people displaced from their homes. This time, some poor planning caught up with the utilities, as well as their reluctance to harden the infrastructure because of cost. I suspect there will be some “discussions” in boardrooms: as there should be. Whether anything improves is yet to be seen.

  14. Family Friends are at their cabin near Llano and we are reliably informed by them that it has been colder than the proverbial wedge there. Reminding viewers that Houston is at the same latitude as the Canary Islands and southern Morocco, and is about as prepared as they are for a winter storm event with days of subzero temps and snow.

    The fact that we are having such frequent and severe incursions of the polar vortex is because the Arctic is warming due to climate change, and is warming faster than the lower latitudes. See: https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/climate-change-impacts/why-polar-vortex-keeps-breaking-out-arctic

    The main virtue of fast food at the moment is that it is hot. I would not trade my Hungerbuster — or a Big Mac either, come to that — for food straight out of whatever temperature the can happens to be.

    1. Some of the power loss in Llano County (and elsewhere, I’m sure) has been due to damaged lines. It takes time to find those, and some over-the-top dedication by line workers to get those fixed. A friend in Fredericksburg said it was doing a nice job of melting there today, and it’s started in the area of the ranch in the photos. Drippiness is good.

      You’re right about the virtues of hot food. I’m no fast food fan, but if it were the only option to cold, I’d take it. I’m lucky to have another option, and it was up and running today. There’s a catering place that provides a rotating menu of meals to go. You call, order, and pick up. Today, I stopped by and got some pecan chicken with pilaf, and a container of crab bisque. As my mother would say, I feel like Mrs. Gotrocks.

  15. Ha oh my gosh that tiny little snow plow haha. Glad to see some comic relief! And glad to hear things are getting a little better and that you and yours are safe.

    1. That one’s fun, isn’t it? I’m especially tickled by the chains on the rear tires. I well remember what it required to put chains on a car. I don’t even know if anyone does that now, or if specialized snow tires have taken over. I do know that I’m going to get some YakTrax to throw in the closet. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to walk on ice!

  16. One great picture after the next! Love the snow removal items.
    (Hmmm, it’s only “historic” if one has the memory of a gnat or the years of a butterfly?)
    As they say, There’s no place like Texas – for so many reasons.
    Did you hear Mattress Mack’s comment today? “So much time wasted talking about problems. Let’s just get in there and fix it.”

    1. I think it was today that someone suggested putting Mack, HEB, and someone else in charge of fixing this mess. I can’t remember who the third party was, but I remember I agreed with the suggestion. You surely remember Mack’s motto: “If it is to be, it’s up to me.” He’s got it right. That brings back my first lesson from my sailing instructor, too: “Never say ‘I can’t.’ Ask, ‘How can I?'”

      My personal suggestion to the emergency managers and weather people is that they should describe the next event like this as a “cold hurricane.” If people had prepped for this as they do for a hurricane, there’d be far less panic about running out of food, water, gas, and so on. The weather dudes made perfectly clear from about ten days out how bad this was going to be. You guys were prepared, and I was prepared, and a good number of other people I know were prepared. On the other hand, there are reports that at their February 9 meeting, the ERCOT board spent about 90 seconds on winter prep. If that’s true… Well, I suppose we’ll find out in time.

      I’ll tell you this. I’m sure glad I didn’t let the 1st Choice people convince me to give up my fixed rate plan and switch to a variable rate!

      1. Supposedly there were emails sent by ERCOT to power providers Feb 12, and 13th saying “we’re going to need peak performance, OK?”….and 2:30 am Feb 14, ERCOT issued pleas to all to cut demand quickly (when everyone was asleep), at 3:3O there was a level 2 alert about the grid, and an hour later it was “OMG, Cut power. Cut power. Cut everyone’s power now”…yeah, they had it covered…..
        Debriefing is gonna be fun!
        (Yea for fixed rate! Smartie)

  17. All I can say is, Wow!

    (and what a great series of photos depicting the unusual snowfall). Love the one with icicles hanging from the car and roof overhead.

    1. It’s been something, Vicki. We do have these cold snaps about once a year, or maybe twice, and of course there are parts of the state that get snow every year, but this was truly extraordinary: so much ice, snow, and cold for so many days was bound to cause trouble. The good news is that the trouble is lessening by the hour, and the temperatures will be going up steadily. By Sunday, we may have 60F, and the melting will move farther north.

      That photo of the icicle car reminds me of the winter palace in the film Dr. Zhivago. It’s not quite as romantic, but it is impressive in its way.

  18. A fun way to look at it Linda. You had me laughing. Few things are more valuable than a sense of humor once you have taken care of the basics. In fact, I’m not sure anything is, even if it is gallows humor! Glad to know that you are okay and still able to laugh. –Curt

    1. Gallows humor is better than no humor at all. I just realized there’s an amusing little coincidence hidden away inside the bingo card, too. Do you recognize the guy’s photo? That’s Matthew McConaughey, who’s either loved or hated in Austin and who said last year he wouldn’t not consider running for governor. What amused me is realizing that some people consider his breakout role to have been in the 1993 film Dazed and Confused. My first blog post, written in 2008, was titled “Dazed and Confused.” I wonder if someone owes me some residuals or something?

      1. Dazed and confused are also great words for today, Linda, for society in general. Or ‘in a state of shock’ might be better. Amusing article on McConaughey. It might be a fun campaign. Speaking of funny, my first post was on breeding tree squirrels. –Curt

  19. Wow.. those are quite the photographs! Thanks for this. We are hearing about this in the news quite a bit. Minus 18 without proper heating etc. is a quite a weather event! Glad to know things are on the mend.

    1. A lot of people are finding they’re more resilient than they knew, and some people are learning new coping techniques. I have an upstairs neighbor who had no idea salt could help deal with the ice on her stairs. There’s always a new discovery waiting!

  20. I have been thinking of you and am glad that your power is back on, you’re safe, and your sense of humor is intact. The premonition to prepare is interesting and I’m glad you had it. I keep Sterno, among other things…I hope the turtles get back to sea soon, poor things. They looked pretty miserable in the pictures I saw. Take care.

    1. Things are even better this morning. Our low was 38F, and we’re headed to 50 or so. I may not drag the plants back outside until tomorrow, but I’ll soon have my dining room back.

      It was less a premonition that led me to prepare than it was experience. Forecasters were predicting this ten days out. If the people responsible for our infrastructure weren’t going to pay attention, I was. Similar experiences in 1983 and 1989 taught me to consider weather like this equal to any hurricane. When the pipes in Houston burst in ’83, I was living in midtown, and had the experience of bonding with my neighbors as we broke the ice in the swimming pool to get buckets of water to flush toilets. No, ma’am. I’ll not do that again. I’m sitting here with enough water and food to go another week or more if I had to, with enough to share with less-prepared neighbors.

      1. We think alike! In winter, you can put stuff outside in a cooler; in summer, I make more ice; I always have bottled drinking water and extra tap water even though I use the tap to drink ordinarily; and I’ve been know to fill the bath tub depending on hurricane forecasts. I have a nice little charcoal grill, Sterno, and extra canned goods. But two days is the worst it’s been here without power. It used to go out when it thundered, or a squirrel thought it could play on a transformer, but the power company got in trouble from the public service commission. It’s been pretty stable since. I wish you warmth and stable power and … good water soon!

        1. I’ve never thought of getting a little camp stove and sterno, but I sure am going to do that. I learned from another woman how to use an upside down clay pot and some votive candles to make a little heater, too. I’d never seen such a thing, but it’s clever. I do have plenty of antique oil lamps and good oil. They put out quite a bit of heat, too — far more than LED lanterns. I’m going to hone my skills before the next time.

    1. Thanks to your comment, I finally snapped to and put a caption beneath that beast. It’s not a Longhorn. It’s Ankole-Watusi, a modern American breed that has roots in Africa. I have some photos of a small herd of them in Colorado County that I never posted because I didn’t know what they were. Now that I do, I may pull them out of the archives. They’re a handsome breed, if somewhat odd-looking. Those horns certainly are impressive.

      1. I knew that I’d seen the breed before, probably during my veterinary studies in Berlin. A longhorn came briefly to mind as I was writing my comment, but I didn’t take the time to check. Thanks!

  21. Loved the photos but I really like the magnificent Texas Longhorn. It is a beauty standing all proud and glorious amid a winter wonderland. I thought of you and your Iowa roots and wondered how you felt about the snow and ice. While snow is beautiful I have never been in love with the cold that generally accompanies snow in Texas. I have fared ok since I have natural gas for a heat and a kitchen range. But no lights for 4 days was getting me down since I could not see well enough to read using the light of a lantern.

    1. I just mentioned to Gary that I should have put a caption below that beast. It’s not a Longhorn. It’s Ankole-Watusi, a modern American breed with roots in Africa. They’re magnificent animals. Somewhere I have photos of a small herd of them I found over in Colorado County. I’ll pull those out and see if they’re worth posting. (And I added a caption to the photo.)

      It’s funny. I loved snow when I was in Iowa, and never thought a thing about it as far as “coping” went. I don’t remember ever being afflicted by the cold, even when we were walking to school in deep winter, wearing tights underneath our skirts. Of course, we had the gear to keep us warm, just as people in the north do today. That makes a difference. But I think being away from it changes our tolerance, as does increasing age. I get cold far more quickly than I used to, and when I’m working in low temperatures I’ve been known to layer long underwear. But I still think snow’s pretty!

      You’re lucky to have had gas for heat and cooking. This all-electric life is great, until it isn’t. Thank goodness I had that long underwear to help keep me cozy in the house. I wasn’t without heat for long stretches at all, but they were long enough that I started pondering what I’d do if it didn’t come back on.

  22. Winter here is a way of life, of course, and cities are equipped to deal with it. Generally, my street is ploughed within four hours of a snowfall, for example, and everyone has suitable clothing, and houses are well insulated. I can’t conceive of facing those conditions totally unprepared. Ah well, time to head to Cancun, I guess.

    1. Well, we weren’t totally unprepared. We get ice more often than snow, and there are fleets of trucks that treat the roads with sand and salt when that happens. What we’re not accustomed to is snow on top of ice, or long stretches of sub-freezing temperatures. Usually, periods of extreme cold and ice are over with quickly. This one lingered.

      There’s something else, too. This was the first time the entire, huge state of Texas was under a winter weather advisory. Usually, when a tornado, drought, or hurricane afflicts part of the state, other parts pitch in to help with clean-up and restoration. With the whole state (or nearly so) having to cope with power loss, it was a new ball game. Once we’ve gotten power and water to everyone, there are going to be a lot of people asking pertinent questions, and seeking better solutions going forward. It’s not that we weren’t warned. We were, with more than a week’s lead time. Individuals and local organizations paid heed. Certain bureaucrats didn’t, and they need to be held to account.

  23. Good morning!! What a delightful post! I loved the little car with the snow blade on front. I use to have a little John Deere mower that we would attach a snow blower and along with tire chains, it worked rather well. Now we have a tractor (with a cab!) and a blade or bucket. Yes, being prepared is most important. I’ve always been prepared as most of my life has been spent out in the country, along with a whole house generator! You’ve had more snow than we have had in Kansas! But those temperatures were brutal!
    Thankful you are well, happy and safe!!

    1. If we can’t smile at these trials and tribulations, where would we be? During the worst of this, things did get pretty dicey for some people I know: especially people in places like Galveston whose houses are raised on stilts to protect them from hurricane storm surge. What works for hurricanes isn’t so helpful for a blizzard!

      A whole house generator sounds wonderful. We apartment dwellers can’t enjoy such things, so we have to get creative — or have a friend with a generator!

      Can you believe this? The low tonight is supposed to be 50F!

    1. I’m far better off than some. For one thing, I don’t have broken water pipes to contend with. The sun is shining, the squirrels are breakfasting, and the birds are singing their little hearts out. With the roads clear, the grocery stores are being restocked, and drinking water’s being provided to those who are without. Things are a lot cheerier than they were for a while, that’s for sure.

  24. Wow! Your unplowed roads are a true mess! Hope you guys get a break and can avoid some flooding if it all melts off at one time. Enjoyed your photos but I’m glad I’m not down there now.

    1. The nice thing about Texas is that things never stay the same. It’s currently 48F here, and our snow is all gone. There’s still some in Austin and points north, of course, but it was melting even in Austin and the hill country yesterday, so it won’t be long until the icy roads and such aren’t an issue. Being on the coast is an advantage, for sure! With our heat and waater restored, I just did dishes and had a nice, hot shower. Little luxuries count!

  25. You were smart to prepare for a ‘cold hurricane,’ Linda. I really feel for the millions that are still struggling to get utilities restored. I can’t imagine trying to feed and water livestock!

    1. It’s not just humans who are having trouble finding what they need at the grocery stores — things like range cubes, corn, and hay have been tough to find in areas, too. It’s warming enough now that things will begin to improve; at least the ponds and such will thaw. Now, we’re waiting to see how badly the fisheries will be hit. Once the bay waters get into the 40s, the fish have a hard time; in the past, millions have died in a freeze like this.

      1. I’ve wondered about how hard it has been for wildlife. Bird migration may be occurring and that would be disastrous. And hummingbirds that winter there? Heartbreaking.

        1. The people I know who still have hummingbirds have reported them safe. There are a lot of hungry birds, that’s for sure. A ranch manager I know says there were thousands of doves on his property. They’re feeding the birds, as most of us are. I’ve had to laugh at our robins; they seem to have developed a real taste for the dried mealworms I’ve been putting out.

  26. Of course I’m watching from afar and thankful that I’m here and not there. An ice storm is beautiful for about one hour, and I’ve experienced enough to know that it ain’t as purdy as the idyllic photos suggest. I was in the museum today and explaining to the guards what it’s like to have an ice storm. “It’s like a hurricane that destroys the trees and electric lines/poles, but the houses are intact. ” I didn’t mention frozen water lines in attics, etc.

    It’s good to see that you’re fine (of course you are) and being positive about ways of dealing with water and such. You’re probably helping your neighbors keep a good sense of humor, and to be thankful when better weather – and electricity/water returns to norm.

    1. Lisa! Hello! I was thinking about you yesterday when I heard a report on NPR about the bad conditions in Mississippi. There have been tremendous power losses there, too. Their problems were different, and due more to heavy ice, falling limbs, and such. Apparently many of the lines are hard to get to, so the recovery there is a slow process. I know that Jackson was affected; I didn’t hear any other specific locations mentioned.

      We are doing well. Power’s back across almost all of the state. The boil water notice is still in effect, but I expect that to be lifted in a couple of days. We’re at 50F right now, and the low tonight is supposed to be 52F. It’s the Texas roller-coaster, for sure. We’re used to the ups and downs, but the freezes usually last two or three days — not ten. Tomorrow, the plants get to trade the dining room for the patio!

  27. Good to see you’re okay, Linda! I only lost power for part of that first day, and my water has stayed functional. Strange times, that’s for sure. Many nearby weren’t nearly as lucky. Take care!

    1. We’re really on the way, now. Yesterday afternoon the car washes even were open. It was warm enough, the power was on, and there was normal water pressure. Today? It’s going to be even warmer! Thanks for your good wishes!

    1. Many of the native will do fine. The palm trees and tropical plants that so many people love are either gone or going. Many of the shrubs and trees are just beginning to brown. I’m hoping the palms around my place will make it, but the one that was most in the open probably won’t.

      I still remember a line of palms in 1990 that went through an ice storm so serious the fronds at the top became so heavily weighted they snapped every tree in half in the middle. Whoops!

        1. Well, it depends. We have some palmettos that are native, and a few other palms will survive here if conditions are just right, but this time around conditions were just wrong, and things like the Queen Palms that everyone wants just aren’t suited. It’s amusing to watch, in a way. We have these ice storms far enough apart that people forget what happens during them, or new people move in thinking they’ve hit the true tropics. The palms get planted again, the ice comes, and the palm-tree sellers start counting their money again.

    1. They say we need to capture special moments, because they can be fleeting. These moments can flee right on down the road, as far as I’m concerned, but they certainly were — interesting.

    1. A lot of people were smiling today — even the ones scouring the town for plumbing supplies. The sun was shining, it was warm, and water was plentiful. The villagers were happy! I even had the treat of robin song tonight. It was like being in the middle of summer; that bird sang for nearly an hour, just before sunset. Wonderful.

  28. Oh my goodness, what an awful storm, it certainly looked beautiful but so deadly. I can’t imagine losing power and water on top of a pandemic. So glad you have power and water. Here’s to everyone getting their lights back on.xxx

    1. As of five minutes ago, Texas is down to 13,694 people without power. That’s about the same number of people as in Oregon and Mississippi. I suspect most of it has to do with downed tree limbs and such. The grid is up and running.

      To be honest, no one was much concerned with the pandemic through all this. In fact, I’ve not heard anyone talking about it for a couple of weeks. Everyone had other concerns, of course, but there’s been a sharp decline in our regions’ cases and hospitalizations. In fact, we’ve come to the point where restaurants and bars can open at 75% capacity — and you’d better believe there were people dining and drinking this afternoon!

  29. Wow. Seeing the highway abandoned and then with a few cars and more pedestrians is something we don’t even see here. I’ve seen hundreds of cactus pictures but that’s the only one with snow I’ve ever.. Pretty amazing stuff and in its own way attractive if not for the suffering that accompanied it. Time will pass and all will get back to normal but some will linger for a few folks unfortunately. At first I thought you had ventured out for all those pictures until I saw it was from someone else further down. Intrepid but you are wise also. :)

    1. You have snow plows! We have sand and salt trucks, and farther north they have a few plows, but most people are used to just hunkering down during a winter storm because they usually come and go pretty quickly. Those ranch photos are from the part of the state that was coldest: -7F. They got a lot of rain in the beginning, too, so there was a good bit of ice before the snow came. The guy who took those photos drove the road between that ranch and Pit’s town of Fredericksburg yesterday, and he said that between the downed trees and the abandoned cars off the road, it looked like a war zone.

      In my area, things didn’t get quite so pretty. We didn’t have enough snow. When it was prettiest, my power was coming and going, and the thought of heading outdoors when you’re not sure there will be a warm place to come back to isn’t very appealing. I did resolve to get myself some YakTrax to keep in the closet, though. I’d forgotten what it’s like to walk on ice!

      1. WIth any luck you won’t need the YakTrax but they are fairly cheap insurance for a steady tread should you need them. We wear those around the yard when it gets slippery. For photography in icy conditions I wear crampons which are stainless steel spikes on a stretchy elastic rubber form that grip tight and dig into the ice for traction.

        1. Since I’ve never had a need to outfit for winter photography (or winter grocery-storing, for that matter), I’d never heard of Crampons. I just looked at them, and they’re inexpensive enough that they might be worth the investment. If we ever get conditions like this again, it would be better to have them at hand.

          1. They are great on ice but I discovered that it is wiser to put them on outside rather than in my study and then try to walk on our ceramic tile to get outside. There is no grip on such a hard surface and Steve almost go boom!

            1. Makes sense to me. This is mostly unrelated, but I heard quite a discussion between two fishing guides recently, about the customer who showed up wearing golf shoes. Spikes and fiberglass decking don’t make much of a pairing, either.

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