Saturday, February 12, 2011

In other weather news...

I've been so preoccupied with the cold lately, that I haven't given much thought to rain. We've had a lot of cold, dry spells where the air felt freeze-dried, and we've had a few sudden bursts of precipitation. What does it all add up to?

From the U.S. Drought Monitor for 8 Feb. 2011

Apparently, at least here in Bastrop County (blue X above), it adds up to a "moderate drought" (the tan patches on the map). Ditto for Travis and Williamson.

As a side note, does it seem like 33 months out of every 36 we're in a drought here in Central Texas? Maybe we should stop thinking of this as a place that gets rain. Maybe we should move into biodomes, like colonists on Mars, and recycle all our bodily waste. That way, we won't be disappointed by the lack of precipitation. It's not drought, we'll say to each other; that's just the way it is. It never rains here.

So when's this moderate drought going to break? I checked in with the good folks at the NOAA's Seasonal Drought Outlook, and their website said, "Dear Texas: It never rains here. Go build a biodome."

No, not really. They just posted this infographic:

Drought outlook for 3 Feb - 11 Apr, 2011.

So. Time to fix that irrigation pipe that froze last week and think about turning some of those sprinklers back on. It's going to be a parched and dusty spring.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Punxsutawney Phil, You Let Us Down

Does this look like an "early spring" to you, Phil?

Our house, looking alarmingly like a Thomas KinkadeTM cottage. Incidentally: best Kinkade painting ever. Yes, that's Cthulhu.

For two years running, we've had real, actual, honest-to-goodness snow. It's so weird! But exciting!

Plus, we get to stay home from work.

The back yard and greenhouse were covered.

The pond was half iced, and then the ice was covered in snow.

And all the streets in Elgin were blanketed.

By early afternoon, though, the sun was out and most of the snow had melted, allowing us to take stock.

The cordia finally froze, which is a bummer. Last year's winter dealt it a major setback, and it had j-u-u-u-u-s-t start to recover by autumn.

Also, the succession of hard freezes 86ed the burgeoning signs of spring around the yard. It killed the cemetery iris (Iris albicans) buds, finally persuaded the indomitable miniature rose 'Green Ice' to drop its last flowers of the season, and took out our first few Chinese sacred lily blossoms.

A portrait of carnage: the cordia to the top left, a blighted iris bud in the middle

It's not all due to the snow storm, though. Many of our tender perennials survived earlier freezes this year that just toyed with frigidity. The temperature dipped down for a few hours and then popped back up, and many of our plants were able to scrape by on the heat reserved in the moist earth or radiated off of our house or patios. But the last week or so has frozen like it meant it--hard freezes at night in the 20s and below, staying near or below 32 all day. And such wind--it was exactly like DeSmet in The Long Winter. Exactly. I had to wear two scarves to work--one under my coat to seal it up, and another outside to protect my face. A crinum or shrimp plant or salvia just isn't meant to take that kind of punishment. They're going to be hitting the snooze button until late March, I think.

So now we really are in the doldrums of winter--at least for another few weeks or so.

Icicles on the fountain last week
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