I woke up last night to a series of deep, low frequency hums generated by transformers headed toward catastrophic shut downs. Outside my bedroom window I kept seeing bright, long time flashes of greenish light. The kind that usually signals transformer failure. We got hit by an ice storm last night. Pretty much everyone in central Texas got walloped.
After the first wake up I couldn't get back to sleep. I kept listening for stuff. Was the central heating cycling on and off? Were the transformer hums and bright flashes getting closer? Brighter? Louder? Could I still hear the faucet dripping in the bathroom furthest from the city water supply? Did I have a back-up plan for any of this stuff?
At some point I dozed off and got a few hours of much needed sleep. When I got up I did the rounds inside the house. No frozen pipes. check. No leaks anywhere. check. Electricity on. check. Heater functioning optimally. check. No blinking appliance clocks = no power outage. check. All good so the next step was the creation of good, hot coffee. And some breakfast. check.
I fired up the kitchen table laptop and checked the news. 20% of Austin residents are currently knocked out of power! Tree branches and trees are down all over the city. All untreated bridges and overpasses are coated with at least half an inch of ice. Every one is sending out texts and emails to inform the public that everything is closed down. It feels a bit like the really outrageous ice storm of 2021 but this time we haven't gotten into the freezingXinfinity cold temperatures. It's just hovering for the last three days around 29 to 31°. Just cold enough to make ice stick on everything but not cold enough to tax the power grid.
All the outages so far seem to be the result of power lines downed by ice or ice-covered tree limbs. The grid seems to be holding up okay.
Relief is in sight. Temp are supposed to climb into the mid-30s this afternoon. We'll have one more freezing night, accompanied by sticky rain-turning-to-ice and then we start to come out of the chilly weather and actually are predicted to get some sunshine by the end of the day Friday.
As soon as the day started I got (and sent) dozens of texts to check on local family and friends. Ben is fine. His house lost power for one hour. He's back at his desk working with a cup of coffee close at hand and the heater working well. My brother in SA dodged the freezing weather. They just have a bunch of gray raininess. Friend, Paul, has been without power since 6 this morning. He's got a gas range so he's been able to get coffee and breakfast. We've issued blanket invitations to any who need a place to warm up and get good food service to come on over. We've got a huge living room with a lively fireplace and room for a multitude.
So, nothing got done this week. Nothing will get done this week beyond re-supplying just in case we get another storm soon. We've mostly been doing walks when and where we can. Doing yoga in front of the TV; "Yoga with Adrian" is a house favorite. Push ups are a fact of life. No swimming until the pool opens up again (Friday???) but that's no excuse not to get the heart rate up and the lungs working.
Sadly, when the weather gets really bad my resistance to shopping for photo gear goes down. I've found several items on line that are battering my will to resist. Including a "Khaki" limited edition Leica Q (first version) for "only" $3,000. I haven't clicked the "buy now" button yet but it feels like it's only a matter of time. My last buffer is writing this publicly with the hope that someone swoops in before me and snaps this treasure up. Thus saving me from my own shopping dalliance.
We'll weather this with some bruises to the trees and the almost certain demise of the sad succulent garden B. has been nursing back to health since the last freeze; and hope we don't get too many more ice storms this year. A soft dusting with dry snow? We'd like that. But black ice? You can keep that.
Now on the search for the perfect cookie. I hope it exists in the house. Especially since the stores are likely closed this morning. Ah well, I can always bake.
Glad to hear you are handling the storm well. Enjoy the downtime. Where I live, today's weather is cold but sunny. This is the first sun we have had in a few weeks. I plan to grab the new Sigma FP I just bought and take a lunchtime stroll to snap a few images before my next meeting.
Delighted to hear that you escaped the worst of it. We had freezing rain a couple of days before Christmas, and it shut down Seattle for the day. The Pineapple Express hosed down most of the ice by dawn on Christmas Eve.
It's just noon here. We're still on track. House nice and warm, studio/office less warm but not under 60°. Sweat shirt weather at the desk. Thinking about making some pasta with pesto and grape tomatoes for lunch. Seems like a good day for it...
When I heard that Austin was covered in ice, I immediately wondered how you were doing - happy to hear that you came through okay.
yay, you not being impacted! ice storms suck! but you are making the most of it! and prepared for it!
Good to hear you are doing OK and even better you are offering help to others.
Ice storms can be nasty and dangerous.
Was driving into town from the farm this morning and a guy was walking alongside the road.(gravel, snow & ice covered) Air temp was 18 below(f) and it was sunny. Stopped to see if he needed a lift, or just exercising as I did not recognize him as being on neighboring farms & town was still 6 miles North. Nope, was walking to town - and then the next one which was another 20 miles away and still North.
So, changed plans and drove him to his destination. Sub zero is nothing to laugh at.
Funny one is we are 24 below at night and the weather guys tell us "A cold front is moving in". O'well, it is good for the ice fishing and frozen vegetable crop.
So no power and 30° would mess up your lunch plans but also break contact with the Leica Q? I don't know what to wish for you now..
Jim, you COULD wish for the ice covered trees to stop dropping six inch diameter branches all over the property. Two have hit the roof so far and one almost took out B.'s car. It's dangerous. We've had eight or so big branches come crashing down and you can hear it all over the neighborhood...
Oh. and on the lunch plans. B. reminded me that we had some killer good minestrone soup left over from last night and I opted for that for lunch instead.
As for the Q...I've given up on that and started looking through websites for portable generators.
And yes, no power, 30° and 500 pound falling branches would go a long way toward messing up my lunch plans...
Something about this weather makes one want to fire up the oven. Bread or cookies?
At 4:00pm this afternoon 172,000 Austin Energy customers were without power. That's nearly 32% of the total customer base. And now trees out to get us.....
Uh…that gently leaning tree. Not good. Maybe stay out of that room, eh?
Sanjay, B. surprised me by making tons of oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies from scratch this afternoon. Yum.
Right now we're at 5 degrees Fahrenheit and I'll take that over milder temps that bring freezing rain and ice. That stuff does real damage. Stay safe out there in Texas. We had one of those ice storms a bunch of years ago and it was ugly.
Keep safe, Kirk and family and wait until it blows over. Nothing worse than that sort of ice, prefer snow anyday: at least you can see snow.
After some big storms a couple years ago out here in NorCal, a local store started answering the phone thus: "Home Depot, we don't have any more generators, how may I help you?"
I miss a lot of things from New England, but ice storms are not on the list.
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