Thursday, November 30, 2006

Icescraper Type Weather - Waco Texas In Deep Freeze

Last night my wife bought me an icescraper for the car because she said cold weather was on the way. Of course, she was right, but at the time we pulled into the local dollar store last night around 8pm to buy it, the temperature was still in the mid 60’s and I wore a short sleeve shirt without a jacket. Right now it is about 5am and the wind is blowing and rain is hitting the side of the house, as the first major winter storm of the year is moving into Central Texas. The weather sure does change fast around here and while I love to watch snow, ice on the roads and power-lines is a whole different story.

I just checked our local Waco, TX temperature and it has already dropped to 36 degrees, but from all the weather reports the worst is yet to come. Tonight’s low is expected to drop into the lower 20’s and that is bad news considering it has been raining most of the night and I don’t think very much of this precipitation is going to dry out before the temperatures start to drop later tonight. One of the best things about the Internet is the ability to pull up current weather conditions, which include not only the temperature, but the local radar as well. Most of this same information is available on cable television, but I have discovered that I prefer the layout of the weather conditions on our local television station’s Internet websites better than on television.

I had been planning to take a trip later today down to College Station, Texas, but I might need to put off that trip if the roads get too bad. I hate driving on icy roads and around here just about every single highway is going through some type of road construction and it goes without saying that under repair roads and ice do not mix well. It wasn’t that many years ago when a major ice storm hit Waco and knocked out power to tens of thousands of residents for almost two days. That storm was really a mess and over the past few years, the local electric company has been trimming trees, much to the displeasure of some homeowners, to minimize the damage if and when another major ice storm hits the Central Texas area.

When that major ice storm hit Waco a few years ago, my power was off for only 18 hours. However, I was lucky because my apartment had natural gas for heating so I was able to stay warm. Of course, the main heater unit would not work without electricity, but I was able to keep my apartment warm by just leaving my oven on 300 degrees and once it heated up, it kept the whole place very warm. Some friends of mine, at the time, had all electric homes and they were not so lucky when they lost electric power for two full days. Most of them were able to stay with friends or local family members until the power was eventually restored to everyone. Electricity is something, I think, we all take for granted until we wake up one day and don’t have it anymore.

It would not surprise me one bit if the high temperature here in Waco raises again into the 70’s by the end of the weekend. People who live around here are forced get use to these major weather changes this time of year. It doesn’t get that cold during the wintertime, but when a major storm does blow through it is usually terrible and then within a few days the whole area gets back to normal like it never even happened. I wrote here a few days ago about wishing for a White Christmas this year, but it is still way too early for that to happen. You can bet that we will have temperatures in the mid 70’s for most of December, unless something really strange happens with the weather this year.

It is impossible for me to think about icy conditions without thinking back to a Thanksgiving Day over 10 years ago when Leon Lett, from the Dallas Cowboys, played in a football game I referred to at the time as the “Ice Bowl” and fumbled the ball on the last play of the game which lead to a Cowboys loss. I remember waking up that Thanksgiving morning to the sounds of ice hitting my rooftop. When I went to the window to open the curtain I could not believe my eyes. There was, at least, three inches of ice covering the ground everywhere. Later that day, after a big meal, I turned on the television to watch the Cowboys play on Thanksgiving, like they always do and the football field at Texas Stadium looked exactly like my front yard did 90 miles away in Waco. It is funny how something as simple as ice can bring back memories from so long ago.

Everyone here in Waco is hoping for the best and praying that the area is not blanked with ice before the end of the day. While I did invest in an icescraper, it would be nice not to need it, at least later today or in the morning. I just read a story in our local paper, The Waco Tribune Herald that said road crews have already loaded up their trucks with the salt mixture stuff they put on bridges and overpasses when there is rain followed by below freezing temperatures in the forecast. While this mixture of salt and whatever else does melt the ice, it will work some bad magic on the underside of most cars, if it is not washed off quickly after the weather clears up. Oh well, this post probably didn’t appeal to most of the people who regularly read this blog, but the weather is big news here in Central Texas today and I thought I would add my two cents to what everyone else will be talking about as the day goes by. I just hope that everyone who does need to travel today will be extra careful and take their time getting to wherever it is they are going.

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