As 2011 comes to an end, I spent yesterday reflecting on the hand Mother Nature dealt us here in Central Texas this year.
The year started off normal enough but quickly it turned into a very non-normal year. In February, we spent three days, three full days, with sub-zero temperatures. I can’t ever remember Central Texas spending straight 72 hours with temperatures below freezing but I’ll say that when it was over, temperatures in the 30’s suddenly felt, um shall I say, almost pleasant and the temperatures in the 40’s were downright balmy.
Then came the summer. Now summertime in Central Texas is pretty harsh anyway but this year the word harsh doesn’t do it justice. A better word is brutal and it was absolutely terrible. The rain spigot turned off sometime in April or May throwing nearly the entire state in an exceptional drought, and didn’t turn back on until the day after Thanksgiving. It was one of the worst dry spells we’ve experienced in a very long time, so dry that the water inflows to all the major rivers fell to nearly nothing and the water levels in the rivers and lakes fell to all time lows.
In addition, the temperatures soared and dried everything out. Austin tied an all time record high of 112 in August. The intense heat made everything looked washed out and brassy. Foundations cracked and cities put restrictions on water usage. For some, though, that wasn’t enough as they came very close to running out of water. Fires broke out all over the state. The worse one was in Bastrop where over the course of about a week, over 34,000 acres were burned and over 1600 homes were destroyed. In the words of one firefighter, “it was total domination.”
This photo is terrifying. Can you imagine this wall of fire advancing on you and your home? How about driving down the road and coming upon it? I can’t. My heart goes out to those who lost their homes and businesses to this fire.
My favorite month is November and it’s not because Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. It’s because the summertime heat has finally abated and we can emerge from the cocoons of our homes and finally enjoy the outdoors. And this year, late November was doubly good because the rains started back up.
Nearly every day in December, it rained. It rained and rained. A blessed, glorious, amazing, soaking, rain. But by Christmas, my mood started to match the dreariness of the sky and I started craving the sun again.
Yesterday was my reward. The sun was out and the temperatures were in the upper 50’s. It was an awesomely incredibly beautiful day.
There were a few flowers that reminded me that even in winter, things flourish.
I’ve been trying not to think of what Mother Nature will bring us in 2012, but now I think I might be almost ready for it.
Austin’s Deep Freeze by Stephanie Schmidt
Bastrop Fire by Austin American Statesman