The weather in Austin is sort of predictable in the long run but highly variable in the short run. The predictable parts are summer hot, winter cool.
I already mentioned the hot, dry summer days, 100+. Last year's record highs were 110-112 right around Labor Day weekend. We, cleverly, had the foresight to be elsewhere when that happened. In NH and Maine that week, it was a delightful 70 degrees. Ahhhh. Then we came back to Texas, and a few days later, there were two nights of 60 and fabulous, clear days of high 80s to low 90s. That is the kind of weather that one can tolerate for a long, long time.
The variable parts are the transitional seasons, spring and fall. It's not like the legendary New England, "If you don't like the weather, just wait an hour," but it does change quickly. Autumn arrives in Austin with the subtlety of Godzilla in a Tokyo suburb. Day 1: 72. Day 2: 35. Quick, cover the plants, bring in the hoses. Yes, it actually, a few days a year, gets cold in Texas. Well, relatively. When I spoke with a friend in NH one day in January, it was 5 degrees and snowing lightly there, 70 and sunny here. Sorry. We do pay our dues down here, but apparently the fees are lower. One oddity: it is very humid in the fall; for a stretch, there is a dew every night and fog every morning.
Winter, from my limited experience of last January and February, spends most of its time in the forties. There are signs on the roads about bridges freezing, so that must happen with some regularity, too. And it rains a fair amount. And, unlike up north, the winter cold rains are often accompanied by thunderstorms, which are a real surprise in winter in the middle of the night.
The rains, when they come at all, are inconsistent. Spotty, spotty: cloudy drizzle torrent drizzle sun drizzle torrent cloudy and back again. When the rain is heavy, it is very heavy. Torrential rain like can't-see-to-drive torrential. If you get caught walking in it, five seconds and you look like you fell in a swimming pool torrential. Sheets and waves, falling mainly sideways. No different from Florida hurricane torrential, and maybe not even quite that bad, but here, the expressway slows to 20-25 mph; there, we just stopped completely because we couldn't see. Of course, that was thirty years ago, when people wanted to drive safely.
When we arrived here, the area was in the midst of a serious drought, less than half the normal rainfall for two years. The main nearby reservoir lakes were down forty feet from their normal levels. People couldn't use their boats because the boat ramps from the roads weren't long enough. Some floating docks couldn't reach down far enough. Many of the "Sometimes Islands" appeared in the lake, normally just sandbars well below keel level. This autumn, we made up some of that shortfall. We had a couple weeks of real rain off and on, about fifteen inches according to my rain gauge, plenty during some of the storms to flood out a lot of roads and even a neighborhood or two. (But nowhere near us. We are five hundred feet above downtown Austin and the river. When the flood water gets to our street, I'm changing my name to Noah.) That little bit of rain did not make up entirely for the lack of the previous two years, but it was enough to fill the lakes from their watersheds back up to their normal levels.
And windy! It's gusty-windy most of the time. For a while in the fall there is a respite, but normally, there is a very stiff breeze around the area, at least where we live. We have a wind gauge, along with our rain gauge, thanks to some thoughtful folks in the No-ath, that twirls around and reads from 10 to 40 much of the time. I am considering building a vertical access wind turbine, of a non-ugly variety, to capture some of that free power and put it to a good use, e.g., irrigating the plants.
Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, Richard Ball Landau. All rights reserved.