Texans Don’t Do Winter Well
Spring, where art thou? I’m a Texan and I’m not supposed to be subjected to this, am I?
Winter is miserable, isn’t it? Ice, snow, and cold that chills you to the bone. I mean, you can’t do diddly in this weather without losing feeling in your hands, feet and other important extremities. No question, these last couple of rounds of winter weather pale in comparison to the February 2021 frozen taste of hell we went through. We had not been that cold in North Texas and Southern Oklahoma in over 30 years. And if I never experience that again in my lifetime, I’m ok with that.
Someone seems to have gotten control of the circus known as ERCOT, at least for now, I guess. Those of us who were lucky enough to not completely lose power during last year’s demon blizzard faced a fresh hell come March in the form of sickeningly high electric bills. I personally got stuck for over $900 on the power and an additional $300 from letting the pipes flow. It was a rough finish for the bank account. I’d like to say that our legislature actually fixed the problems in this last session (and the special sessions that followed), but no, they really didn’t. It’s a sad chapter that should never be forgotten.
So far, winter is trying to kill us all. 80 degrees one day, 15 degrees the next. All the stores are out of bread and milk and everyone has a cold and is scared to death to sneeze in public. Normally a simple sneeze wouldn’t trigger a SWAT team-style response. Now, you sneeze or cough in public and people look at you like you have leprosy. We have this nasty habit in North Texas of panicking over winter weather.
Snowfall shuts down schools. It doesn’t matter if its 1 inch or 10, we’re taking a snow day. And still the people making the decisions on whether or not to open school the day after the initial blast usually won’t just go ahead and make the call to close one more day. I guess they’re hoping to wake up to 75 degrees and wet ground after a day of 15 degrees and an icepocalypse. Stranger things have happened here. And as of this writing, we’re forecast to be in for another round of sleet/ice/snow/lava flow/acid rain/who the hell knows what late this week. Seriously, we never really know what we’re in for until it gets here.
Will it rain, will it snow, I’m the weather guy and I really don’t know! Dr. Suess would be proud. It’s a pure guessing game it seems. Could get a dusting, could get half an inch of ice, topped off with a glistening fresh power. Or, we could get 2” of heavy, wet snow followed by 10-degree temps and a rousing round of Guess Where the Slab Leak Is! I’ll never get used to this.
Yes, we panic. And I think we do so because in a strange way we kind of like it. The thrill of the race to reach the grocery store to face our adversaries in hand-to-hand, shopping cart-to-shopping cart combat over the $1.49 bread the ducks don’t even want or the last 36 count carton of eggs on the planet (or so we believe), it’s just too good to let go of. And who doesn’t need 21 gallons of milk, just in case. We’re sick people when it comes to winter weather.
And it’s not like we don’t know it’s coming. It’s much like a hurricane, in fact. We usually have days of notice that the evil cold mess is coming, yet we’ll wait until the final 12 hours before the big wind shift to race to the store and risk life and limb to snatch up every last commodity like it is THE apocalypse. We crave the anger we’ll feel when we realize the little old lady in front of us in the 800-person deep checkout line has the last container of Nesquik that may ever be.
We’ve all heard it before about how “we” don’t know how to drive on ice. I don’t think anyone can. Northerner, southerner, east coast, west coast, it doesn’t matter where you are from. I don’t care WHERE you’re from, or how “experienced” you think you are, stay off the ice. As a radio commentator, I have for many years now encouraged people to stay home and stay off the roads during winter weather events unless it was an emergency. Apparently, many of us have strange definitions of what constitutes an “emergency”. Trying to make it to Bubba’s house for a poker night-not an emergency. Slip sliding your way to Tiffany’s house for your weekly “date night”, not an emergency. Sliding down Fillmore hill trying to re-live your childhood memories-all that’s gonna get you is a trip to the emergency room and possibly a hip replacement.
The fact is these winter events are usually short lived in our big slice of the USA. Events like the Christmas Eve blizzard of 2009 and the February 2021 trauma storm are rare. The events of the past week are a little more common. We get two to four days of ice, cold, wind and an oversupply of groceries in our house. In less than a full week, we’re back to 75 degrees, mosquitoes come out of hibernation and garbage cans all across the region are filled with crap you bought at the store and is now out of date. Like most Americans, we have a strange sense of what constitutes an “emergency” in times like this.
We go through it every January or February and still we panic. I try not to panic, I really do. I try to follow my own advice. But that does not mean I have to like it, the cold and ice, that is. I hate it. Winter is not beautiful and it’s not fun. We’re nearly half way into March and the demonic cold won’t fully retreat! I don’t know how anyone finds pleasure in being out in that mess. I guess if you grew up in climate like this, maybe you’re just well acclimated. Just like I’m adapted to 95 degrees, 20 percent humidity and sweat. And I’d rather sweat than to freeze any day. So here we sit, the end of another cold and icy bout of winter’s wrath fading, waiting for spring to arrive. I’m ready for it. And don’t worry, summer will only be about 10 days behind.