Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Only Thing Predictable About Texas Weather Is Its Unpredictability

This past year has given the folks living in the Texas Hill Country quite a ride with respect to weather. During 2009, the area experienced a severe drought, 68 days at or above 100 degrees, and some of the lowest water levels on Lake Travis ever. Then, last fall, the rains started, followed by a dusting of snow in December. January of this year, along with a lot of places in the South, brought a couple of nights of unbelievably cold temperatures which turned many of the palm fronds in and around the hill country the color of brown cardboard.

This past Sunday, it was in the 70’s, and yesterday, just a bit cooler. The days were perfect for golfing and boating, and on both days golfers and boaters were out in force. Today, however, the bottom dropped out. It rained early this morning, followed by a little snow, then sleet, and then a complete changeover to all snow for most of the day. While there were no golfers or boaters out today, children around the area, who rarely if ever see measurable snow, were having lots of fun. The falling snow covered flowers, grass, and trees.

The weather in the hill country this past year was unusual, but only because of its extremes. The area usually enjoys a semi-tropical climate with sunny days, hot summers, and mild winters. Precipitation is normally spread evenly throughout the year, with the wettest months being in May and October. What made this past year a little different was the higher than normal numbers of extremely hot days, the lack of rain, the very bitter cold snap, lower than average temperatures during this winter, and measurable snow. And, while this does not happen in most years, it has all happened before, and many times. This is Texas, after all.

The hill country is used to “feast or famine” weather, and it gives rise to the old expression down here, “if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” Since before recorded time, inhabitants of the region have been accustomed to what is now called a “Blue Norther.” In the fall, cold fronts can come in fast, and temperatures can often drop 20 or 40 degrees, or even more, in a matter of minutes.

I’m not big fan of the cold, snow, or winter weather, which is one of the reasons I moved to the hill country after living all my life up North. Nevertheless, I did enjoy the nostalgic novelty of the snow today. Tomorrow it is forecasted to be in the upper 50’s, and later in the week, back into the middle to upper 60’s.

The only thing predictable about Texas weather, I guess, is its unpredictability.

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