I can’t remember the last time we had this much snow! For those of you that are in Australia – ahem, Mitchell and Jenneth – enjoying your 100 degree summer heat, let this pictorial be a reminder of the freaky things nature is doing in Texas…
Sarah woke me up at 5 am this morning to see the snow. She was absolutely positive that school would be cancelled and was ready to crawl back in bed…but she was watching the TV to make sure. After peeking out the window, I figured she was correct.
While this may not seem like all that much snow to readers in the north, this a massive snowfall for San Angelo. Tom Green is just a few counties over from the Chihuahuan Desert, and our West Texas temperatures can be bitterly cold in January, but there usually won’t be any snow. If we get snow…it almost never sticks. Last night’s snowfall was covering the sheet of ice which was already in place from last weekend’s ice storms – the storms that caused 76 wrecks in our area.
[Give me a moment while I pull out my soapbox...]
Have you ever noticed how many people will suddenly decide that they need to run the roads when conditions are completely unsafe? It’s like a strange character trait that manifests in the wrong conditions or something…
“What? It’s sleeting?! Let’s go out to eat!”
“Oooooh – they have a foot of snow over in the sunken gardens…let’s go see it!”
When conditions are unsafe and the town has been basically shut down, there is no need to go out unless you absolutely have to. Let this be the one time that you give the people that have to be on the roads as much room to maneuver as possible. Stay home! It’s warm there, and you are safe! Your car is safe!
Other people are safe from you! And so what if you are a good driver – the other guy might not be!
[Now I'll step down from my soapbox and put it away...]
Of course, this was a day that I knew we would have to be on the road, because three days in a row of freezing weather meant that the water troughs at the ranch would be frozen over and the animals would be thirsty. My ex and I were going to tackle the troughs on one side of the county while the ranch’s outfitter would break the ice on the others.
The good news is that once we got out of town, we basically had Highway 277 South to ourselves.
Only one vehicle had already been down the coleche county road leading to our destination, the Cedar Section. The snow was about 6″ deep, and it was magical…it looked like something from a fairy tale.
We stopped on the county road so that I could snap this picture, and I was surprised when I touched the snow to see how fluffy and firm it was – perfect for making a snowman or perhaps skiing. I really wished I had a snow-mobile; that would have been a blast!
I told my ex I was going to make a snow angel when we got to the ranch; he looked at me like I was crazy.
Once we had entered the gate at the Cedar Section, we were on a pristine alpine tundra that hadn’t been touched by anyone yet. My ex, a child of Louisiana and Florida’s basically snowless winters, tasted the first snow he could ever remember trying…and liked it.
cactus in the snow – definitely not a common sight
So here I am, bundled up in J Crew polar fleece-lined khakis, Red Wing waterproof insulated boots, leather gloves, and the biggest most fluffiest down coat imaginable, going to take a look at what the cattle have had to deal with since last night. By the lack of tracks, it doesn’t appear that they have even come up for water since the snow fell…
…the solid coating of fresh snow on top of what should have been open water was not good.
The deer had already come up for water…and had been turned away.
Time to get crackin’! A pointy shovel is the best tool to break the ice…
…which was about 3″ thick!!
I think I could have stood on the trough’s ice and not fallen through…not that I was going to try it.
My ex finished clearing the trough while I walked over to look at the tank. The windmill had been turned off before the cold weather came so the pipes wouldn’t burst. As you can see here, the tank has a solid ice cover.
Since the cattle hadn’t yet made an appearance, I wanted to locate them and make sure they were okay. We drove up the hill behind the water lot; drifts of snow were all around the area. It almost looks like a hazy day at a white sand beach, doesn’t it?
The cattle must have heard the diesel truck motor while we were sitting at the top of the hill; we didn’t even have to honk the horn and they came running!
We slowly drove back to the water lot to show the cattle that water was available. They say that cows will drink more when it is cold than they will in the summer time; these girls certainly seemed thirsty.
Look at the icicles hanging from these heifers’ ears…brrr!
This mama cow is trying to remember the last time it was this cold…however, she’s coming up short because it wasn’t during her lifetime.
After making sure that water was flowing back into the trough and everyone was present and accounted for, we were ready to leave.
I decided against making that snow angel…it was just too darn cold.
The forecast calls for showers, ”wintry mix”, and light snow up until Wednesday next week.
We’ll be back in a few days to bust ice again…