The stars must have been aligned just right in Texas this past week. The entire state was slammed with record breaking low temperatures and snowfall for 6 days in a row. I absolutely abhor the hackneyed words “unprecedented,” ‘juncture,” and “inflection point,” (and “patriot” as used by insurrectionists). I’ll use “unheard of” or “one of a kind,“ “record breaking” or “historic” instead.
Thankfully, I have had no major interruption of my electric power, natural gas or water. No burst pipes either — yet.
My son and his family stayed in a hotel for 4 days since they could not get their home warmer than 45o. My daughter and her family called at 5pm Monday night and asked if they could come stay with me (unheard of!) Their electricity had already been out for 14 hours and it was so cold in their house the water in toilet tanks/bowls was freezing. And this was BEFORE the all-time record low of -2o on Tuesday morning 2/16/21. They departed Wednesday from my cramped hide-a-bed/recliner shelter when their power was restored about 3pm.
Texas snowfall is welcomed for its much needed moisture; certainly NOT for the driving conditions it brings. A massive 133 car/truck highway pileup in Fort Worth last weekend was the first real sign of how dangerous the weather would become. Sixteen people died. That number may have gone up. The cruelest death I’ve learned of is an older man in Abilene who, with no electricity, froze to death in his recliner with his wife, who barely survived, next to him.
Texas is a hot and dry state 99.9% of the time. Historic low temps in Dallas such as last Tuesday’s morning low of -2o for Feb. 16 with wind chill at -14o was topped by only one. (February 12, 1899 of -8o low still holds the record). The wind is always blowing here and this was the first time EVER a wind-chill warning was issued for the entire state along with a state-wide winter storm warning. Unfortunately, the generators that produce electricity froze, both physically and politically. The Rs, of course, blamed it on green energy wind turbine blades freezing. Consider that the majority of the generation systems that froze were thermal powered by natural gas, coal, nuclear. (Details, minor details).
Wednesday’s pre-dawn brought another storm with yet more ice and snow. Places like San Antonio had record snowfalls. Austin had no power. Galveston had ski-able snow. Texans got really pissed when a photo of downtown Houston (taken/published Tue 2/16 ), showed all the tall buildings lit up like a new saloon. The uproar to shut off commercial electricity was deafening. Building lights were off within hours.
The Texas power grid and its management have been receiving a lot of attention. Let’s just say it’s a ball-busting political football. I’m sure we will hear more about it in the future, especially since Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is up for re-election in 2022. You will also hear about the TX Railroad Commission (all Rs appointed by Abbott), the TX Public Utilities Commission (all Rs appointed by Abbott), and of course, ERCOT. Chew on this: none of the ERCOT board members live in Texas. Rick Perry should keep his impressions of Texans to himself. I, for one, am not willing to live without power/water/heat/food for ANY length of time to remain independent from federal regulations. No power, no heat, no water, no food, no reasonable answers? wtf?
I have heard a lot of directions and advice on how to keep people and pipes from freezing. But, the garden? Can perennials, accustomed to our usually mild Texas winters, survive these dramatically hard, wicked, lengthy and history making freezes? Can perennials’ roots be raised from the freeze-dried and buried dead and be rehydrated in a rapid thaw? Gardens and their gardeners are on their own to figure it out. Will San Antonio be able to produce its famous yellow roses or Tyler their fragrant red blooms this year?
There’s too much snow on the ground to get any kind of accurate photos of plants. Frozen, wind lashed, bedraggled trunks of turks cap, flame acanthus, yarrow, bee balm and phlox are buried. I’m putting my trust in Salvia Greggii to be the faithful bloomer along with all the butterfly nectar and host plants. I pray the earthworms were buried deep enough to avoid being frozen, or left eggs encased in tiny cocoons. Most of all, I pray my beloved enormous blue agave survived.
I wonder what the Vernal equinox will bring this year. Will we still be in Winter mode even though the astrological calendar says it’s Spring? More snow and deep freezes? It’s only a month away. We keep saying this type of weather is unheard of even though it keeps coming. Real true climate change is right here, in front of the world’s eyes to see.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts 2020-2021 winter for TX/OK having next week’s high temperature at 57o. Just checked the local Dallas forecast. Looks like Mon 2/22 has a predicted high of 58o and Tuesday 60o. Wednesday’s temps will be near 70o. Don’t like the weather, wait a day.
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My dear gardener friends: do you ever wonder why the color green makes you feel so good? Here’s why.
The word “vernal” means spring/green and is rooted in the romance languages.
- Latin: viridi
- French: verte
- Italian: verde
The word green also has an interesting etymology. It goes back to the old English words grene (adjective), gren (verb meaning grassy/to grow), which are related to the germanic word grun and its Dutch cousin groen. Green became a “loanword,” a word adopted, often with some modification of its form, from one language into another — as did vernal.
I relate these root words to an artist’s specific green pigment called viridian. I couldn’t help but note the apt description: root word.
Viridian is blue-green of medium saturation and relatively dark in value. It is composed more of green than blue. The first recorded use of viridian as a color name in English was in the 1860s (exact year uncertain).
If the green of new growth hasn’t begun by tomorrow or March 20, here’s a little something for the stargazers among us.
The Moon enters the ‘Winter Circle’ on Feb. 21. Six bright stars shine in a formation known as the ‘Winter Circle.’ If tomorrow is a clear night and you can withstand the cold, this will be a particularly good night to look for this unofficial constellation as the waning Wolf crescent moon will glow from inside the circle, making it easier to identify in the sky. The circle of stars can be seen from around the globe this time of year, even from the Southern Hemisphere where it is currently astronomical summer.
Full "Snow" Moon
When: Feb. 26-27
The last weekend of February will start with a full moon that has an appropriate nickname based on the month's brutal winter weather.
I hope everyone who was or is in the path of these storms is OK and survived — or is prepared to survive. Call someone for help if you need it. Check on elderly neighbors. Donate time or money to a Texas food bank or shelter. Both are desperately needed.
Special thanks to all those who were worried about me and made contact.
I accidentally published early. How do I correct my mistake so the story does dot show up twice?
Well, seems that DownHeah tried to correct my mistake. My diary now resides in What’s for Dinner!!! The blind leading the deaf….