Chapter 19
Weather
The Tales of Texas

1a - The Mysterious Ski Rack
1b - Wheres the Other Half of That Moose
1c - The Waiter Who Didnt Yall
1d - Scorpions, Scorpio
2a - Diet Soda
2b - Riding into the Sunrise
3 - Modest Magazines
4 - Down to Houston
5a - What Does That Sign Say
5b - Just Follow Your Nose
5c - They Call It the Sunbelt
5d - The State Tree
6 - The New House
7a - Billboards
7b - Billboards Again
8 - Stereo Upgrade
9 - Wineries
10 - Unintentionally Left Blank
11 - CBW in TX
12 - Ice House Radio
13 - Goats and Cotton
14 - Dig We Must
15 - Dan Moody
16 - Dry Heat
17 - Dead Animals
18a - Bookstore Culture
18b - On the Open Road
19 - Weather
20 - Sightings in Bertram and Buchanan
21 - Too Many Birds
22 - Road Hazards
23 - Sightings to and from Houston
24 - The Great Wall of Train
25 - In the Heat of the Day
26 - Bite Me
27 - Bid on This Skeleton
28 - Willie
29 - Rural Countryside
30 - SUV SUX!
31 - Kinky on the Texas Monthly Hour
32 - Strange Yellow Sky
33 - Football is a Serious Enterprise in Texas
34 - Remember the Alamoo!
35 - What's That on the Radio
36 - Trip to Houston through the small towns
37 - Shoe Story, an Austin Anecdote
38 - Unintended Fireworks
39 - Flash Flood Warning
40 - Sin City
41 - Live music in Austin, but in theaters not in clubs
42 - Fear of Overpass
43 - The Big Sneezy
44 - New Texas
45 - Front Ended by the French Fry Mobile
46 - Dirt Farm
47a - Heard at the Texas Book Festival 2008
48a - Texas Book Festival 2009
49 - Central Time Sucks
50 - Temple Texas
51 - Christmas in Austin
52 - Pennants in the Wind
53 - The Road Less Traveled
54 - Texas-size Thunderstorm
55 - Cool Van
56 - Your New House Is That-A-Way
57 - C.S.I. Austin
58 - New MTV Game Show
59 - Equine Technology
60 - Look at That Prairie
61 - Get Your Water Here
62 - Corporate Anniversaries
63 - College Sprawl
64 - Hire These Guys
65 - Preparing for Winter
66 - Careful What You Overhear
67 - Bonnie Raitt
68 - Perfume
69 - Questionable Skills
70 - All-American Day
71 - Read Me
72 - Weird Fog
73 - Overpackaged Food
74 - What Town Was That
75 - Texas Book Festival 2010
76 - Bulletproof Roof
77 - The Oldest Photo
78 - Cheesesteaks Part 1
79 - Cheesesteaks Part 2

What's the Weather?

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.