Back in business and one hopes we will not repeat the past week anytime soon. It started with severe thunderstorms here in the wee hours of the morning early Tuesday that brought some small hail and high winds. By 6am it was below freezing here and the rain that had been freezing rain for a little while had turned into sleet. Nothing quite like the sound of pouring sleet hitting the windows while the skies flashed with lightening and the thunder rumbled. When it finally finished, we had about two inches of the nasty stuff on everything along with temps around twenty and still headed down. The fifty mile an hour wind gusts with sustained winds of 35 meant going outside was just flat out brutal.
The picture above was taken around three in the afternoon looking south from our master bedroom. As you can see, at that point the small creek that runs between our building and the buildings across the way was still flowing and there was ice everywhere else.
Wednesday morning brought news of rolling power outages due to the fact that the brilliant minds that run the power generation system in this state had put some plants offline for routine maintenance and not adequately protected many of the remaining power plants that were online. About five minutes after the news broke at 7:30 am that emergency rolling power blackouts were being instituted across the state with the outages slated to be from 15 to 45 minutes long, our power went out.
We did not start getting concerned until an hour had passed and the lights had not come back on.
After another hour and a half and numerous calls to the automated system run by ONCOR, we were finally able to get through and report our outage. Unfortunately you can NOT talk to anyone at ONCOR even if you can get through which means you have no idea what is going on or when they hope to have your power back on.
As has happened before, our local power company TXU either had a busy signal when called or customer service staff that cheerfully could not answer a single question about anything while working through their unhelpful talking points.
The outage eventually lasted eight hours and ended at about the same time as the rolling blackouts stopped statewide. Interesting timing how that worked out. One of many multi hour outages in the local area that ALL resolved at the same time, ours eventually caused the inside apartment temp to drop to 48 degrees.
The multi hour outages outages were eventually blamed on “cold weather.”
It is winter, after all, and this storm had been predicted for two weeks.
The non-answer given by ONCOR was the equivalent of somebody being murdered and the police saying the victim was killed by a killer.
What was also fascinating that night was to watch the talking media heads parrot the line spun by ERCOT (the power grid operators), ONCOR, and TXU (formerly Dallas Power & Light and our actual power provider in this age of deregulation that has brought customer service located in India, much higher prices by the kilowatt hour--some of the highest in the nation--and many more outrages during good weather and bad) that the storm was “unprecedented.”
UTTER AND COMPLETE BULL CRAP.
The New Year’s Week winter ice storm of 78/79 was far worse; the brutal cold and snow/ice storm of early 96 was worse in terms of precipitation and temps, as well as several other times over the years.
The fact that the local media was either too incompetent to ask hard questions or were all too gullible shows how those who were not born and raised here and get paid to look good on TV simply don’t have a clue as to the fact that those in charge failed across the board. Certainly, there are going to be issues but for the state to have fifty power plants offline by midday Tuesday due to routine maintenance and plant failures along with the high danger of a complete power grid collapse is appalling.
While the state was buying power from Mexico to try to save the grid and the people of Texas during an emergency situation that could easily kill, our blow dried governor, Rick Perry, who has been making us look stupid nationwide over and over again while courting Tea Party voters in an obvious plan to run for President in 2012, jetted off to San Diego for a “working” five day vacation.
Must be nice!
Thursday morning, during the 6am hour, WFAA TV CHANNEL EIGHT erroneously reported that the rolling power blackouts were scheduled to have started at 5:58 am and would be in effect until at least 9am. Obviously, this "news" scared the heck out of us. It became clear by 7am that WFAA had blown it yet again as no other TV outlet was reporting that the blackouts were going again. In fact, several were reporting as was KRLD 1080 AM that ERCOT had NO plans to start the mandated blackouts again. Something I could confirm on the ERCOT website because I had power to surf the Internet.
I was reminded again why I only watch WFAA to see Dale Hansen cover sports and Bryan McCauley cover the weather.
Then the next real weather punch came in just before midnight Thursday night. The predictions had been for an upper level low to travel along the Gulf of Mexico and Texas Coastline from Southwest to Northeast before passing just to the north of Houston and then Northeastward through central Louisiana and towards the East Coast. That predicted by one and all storm track was going to put us on the north side of the storm with a max snowfall of one to two inches.
One look out the back door where I could not see the steps on the stairs before dawn despite the porch light meant we were in trouble. At 6am we had seven inches of snow and it was snowing heavily. The same shot framed as well as we could from second floor living room back door around ten am while the other door was completely covered in snow and ice.
As you can see, the creek is gone beneath the ice and snow. My wife, Sandi, also took the below staircase picture.
As you can see, the creek is gone beneath the ice and snow. My wife Sandi also took the next picture, showing our stairs.
Local weather forecasters misread the situation as the low instead of where it was predicted went from Abilene, to Wichita Falls and then up towards Oklahoma City. That put us on the south side of the storm which meant the Gulf moisture was available and the snow area just exploded above the Dallas-fort Worth area. When all was said we had nine inches of the stuff everywhere.
Thinking the worst was over and after a couple more very cold nights, life would return to normal, I began to relax a little. Then, around 5:30 Friday evening, the water went away and stress was back in a huge way.
It soon turned out that the water had been turned off because the vacant apartment below us had no heat or water on all week and the pipes had burst. That apartment was flooded as was the apartment next door on the ground floor that was very much occupied. About midnight last night it finally came on after over a dozen aborted attempts to turn the water back on since 5:30 Saturday evening revealed additional breakages.
We were very fortunate not to have any damage and as I type this, the dishwasher, clothes washer, and dryer are working hard with load after load. I am horribly behind in reading and writing stuff.
I may have also jinxed things as the power just blipped out and then came back on.
It was supposed to be raining this morning with snow showers and about 35 degrees according to the experts last night. Instead, the sun is out with high clouds to the north, winds out of the south at ten, temps in the low fifties and things almost seem back to normal. It is a beautiful day for football right now.
The same experts who got everything wrong today so far are predicting a return to the week that was on Tuesday and Wednesday as we get hit very hard again.
One hopes the power folks and everyone in charge of the various things we all rely on ARE PAYING ATTENTION this time!