Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Weekend Assignment: Brrr!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

In much of the U.S. and Europe, this winter has been an especially cold and snowy one. How cold has it been where you live? Have recent weather conditions led to any unusual situations locally?

I've been blogging about the unusual weather here all week, but I'll some it all up here.

There's a saying in Texas: "If you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes." I would add "except for the summer, when it's like being under Hell's broiler." But even that is not true all the time. The average temperature this time of year is 55F. Saturday it was 75F, Sunday 68F, and Monday 55F. Then the front blew in. The high was 38F (probably around midnight) and the overnight low was 14. It rained Monday night, and that turned to ice rather quickly. It was 19F when I posted this picture on Monday morning. It got all the way up to 23F today and tomorrow should get up to around 27F - after we get a round of light snow.

(As I post this it's 23F headed to a low of 14F. It was 9F overnight. We're under a Winter Weather Advisory until noon tomorrow. and the radar shows the leading edge of the snow just south of here.)

So, what made this unusual? Well, normally we call this Stock Show weather, because the Stock Show in Ft. Worth runs in February. We generally get buckets of rain during the two PGA golf tournaments in April and May. That's just the way our weather works. Unless you've been living in a cave, you might be aware that there's a football game in Arlington on Sunday. So really, we were just asking for it. The Steelers and Packers fans are calling us wimps, but what they don't understand is that this type of weather is atypical, and when it does happen it rarely lasts for more than a day. The temps bounce back up, the stuff melts, and it's business as usual again. People down here don't get to practice driving on ice and snow on a regular basis. We don't have snow tires or snow chains, and we certainly don't have the heavy duty road deicing equipment they have up north.

Now come and spend three months in 100F temps with high humidity. Fry an egg on the sidewalk. Watch the asphalt in the road pool. Watch the kids play and the people jog in the heat. Then I dare you to tell us we're wimps. Noel Coward could have added Texans to his remark about mad dogs, Englishman, and the noonday heat.

But I digress.

We recently had some new coal-fired power plants come online. I don't think this was their first winter in operation, but probably the first time it's been this cold since they started operating. About half a dozen of them failed miserably Friday night. We woke up yesterday morning to statewide rolling blackouts. Except for the Super Bowl venue, that is, along with the usual hospitals and emergency centers. The stadium got an exemption because it was a security risk. I can understand that, but I hope they made 'em open the dome and cope with the cold like the rest of us. Bet they didn't.

We've had rolling blackouts once before. One day back in April of 1996 the temperature got to around 100F. That was MUCH higher than the forecast high, as I recall. This is a time of year when the average high temperature is around 70F, so some of the power plants go down for maintenance to get ready for the summer. We had rolling blackouts that day, but only for a few hours. While we've had longer periods of temperatures below freezing, I don't recall the schools being closed for four days in a row.  That's unusual.

Extra Credit: What extra measures have you personally taken, if any, to stay warm?

Besides staying indoors and wrapping up like the Mummy's mummy? I've been sewing. The only really warm place in the house is under the electric blanket, and I can't stay there all day. So sewing it is, because that keeps me moving. I've got a darned good start on a neo-Victorian skirt and vest, cut out the lining for a velvet cloak, and ripped out most of the seams in a garment I'm going to completely do over.

Right now I'm thinking about making a grocery store run tomorrow afternoon once we hit our high. We're not down to contemplating eating the cats or anything, but the cupboards are looking a little sparse, not to mention the spice rack. Oh, I did some serious cleaning in the kitchen today, too. And baked some bread. But for some reason, I just couldn't clean out the fridge. I think I can get a pass on that one.

And the irony of ironies: Paul is in Austria this week, where it's about fifteen degrees warmer.

Just looked out the window. The first flakes of snow are starting to fall. I think that's my signal to crank up the electric blanket and get cozy!

Tags: Weekend Assignment

Filed under: Weekend Assignment   Weather         
2/3/2011 10:49:25 PM
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