A Blue Norther is a fast-moving cold front that causes temperatures to drop dramatically 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit and quickly, like a few minutes. There are usually a dark blue-black sky and strong winds.
Checking the temperature by flashlight
The cold front aka norther that hit Texas recently was not technically a Blue Norther. It was neither fast nor unexpected. But it dropped temperatures to unheard of lows…for days.
The whole wide world knew colder temperatures than we’d seen in years were coming.
We all scurried around covering citrus trees and shrubs. We brought plants inside are covered. We stocked extra batteries and water in case ice caused us to lose power. We were ready.
Unfortunately, those in charge of our Texas power grid weren’t.
Our home was one of the four million households in Texas that lost power, water, and cell service when the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) made the deadly decision to cut power off to certain counties.
That meant no power during the longest stretch of freezing temperatures in thirty years: 44 consecutive hours from 6:53 p.m. Sunday to 1:53 p.m. Tuesday. You can find other staggering statistics here.
Our gas fireplace logs burned at full throttle and kept indoor temps around 38 degrees. We put on layers of clothes, wrapped ourselves in heavy blankets, and huddled in the living room.
We were fortunate we had warm clothes from living places where winter lasts six months of the year. Most native Texans don’t own super warm clothes. Why would you when normal is two to three days of cold per year?
Our power was out for fifty-eight hours. We were cold but we didn’t freeze. Sadly, others did.
Naturally, the prolonged cold inside the house caused pipes to freeze.When power came back and we turned on the well, a pipe in our kitchen burst. No water again. Nine days total without water!
But we were blessed. We only had one pipe burst and our neighbor has a plumbing company. Our repairs were done in five days. Too many are still dealing with fallout from multiple pipe breaks and major water damage in their homes.
Eating was a challenge too. Fast food places and restaurants couldn’t open. Texas can’t keep roads passable in a situation like this. A normal blue norther blows in and out quickly, roads are okay. But there’s very little winter weather equipment to handle prolonged icy roads. Roads closed completely.
Again, we were fortunate. Our home came with a gas stove, and we had a supply of matches. We had emergency provisions in our pantry. We could cook. I became the queen of one pan meals. We ate from paper plates and bowls because dipping water from our landscape pool then boiling to sterilize for cleanup was too tedious.
Moral to this tale of woe: Be prepared but don’t trust Mother Nature or the Texas power grid.
And, most important, don’t lose hope. Spring is coming. I’ve seen robins in the yard now that Texas temperatures are moving back to the normal winter sixty-degree ranges.