This was the view on Monday February 15th at about 9:30 AM from near the front of our property by my mother-in-laws house. The antenna you see is on top of Polly’s Peak near Bandera, Texas. The tower and the guy wires were coated in ice. The top of the tower is about 2300′ MSL (above Mean Sea Level). How pretty but also how bad. We were without electricity and without water because we are on a well with an electric pump. I am just getting my blog back up this Thursday evening because the cold caused something in the power supply for the computer I host this on to not start up. I have finally rejoined the Blog-O-Sphere after 4 days down.
This was the view the about 12 hours earlier on the night of St. Valentine’s Day from our front porch. As forecast (hey the got it right for once), the snow started about 09:00 PM. It had already been a cold and icy day from low temperatures and freezing mist so I knew the snow would stick.
I had awakened a couple of times through the night because I was worried about the power but it was still on. When I woke up and noticed the power off it was about 06:00 AM. Because of where we live here in the Texas Hill Country the cell service is poor so I went to the south facing windows in our breakfast room to call Bandera Electric Co-op (BEC) to report the outage. It must have been wide spread as I had to try a number of times on hold for about 10 minutes a time to eventually get bumped off. My wife was finally able to get to the automated message as her phone number is associated with our account. Initial bad news was that electricity would not be on till about 12:00 PM.
While I was waiting on the second try to get BEC, I had the most interesting experience. Traveling across the near dawn sky from northwest to southeast was a stream of lights. Based on other things I have seen in the past and some photos, this traveling string of lights must have been the February 4th launch of SpaceX Starlink satellites. Mrs. BillB can confirm this is real and not a figment of my imagination as she saw it too.
The two pictures above are what we saw shortly after sunrise on the 15th. There was about 5 inches of snow based on what was on the table top. Our almost two year old Catahoula mix dog was let out on the the back porch which exit to the deck above and started barking at the snow as she had never before seen such a sight. She has in the following days developed a liking of snow while she chases the tree-rats (squirrels) from our back yard.
Amazingly the power came on for about 15 minutes shortly after 09:00 AM. But then dropped off. My wife called and we found out that now power would not be restored until 05:30 PM. I was out checking on my mother-in-law (MiL) who lives about 100 yards from us when I took the picture at the top of this post.
Finally I got our new 8 Kilowatt generator hooked up and powering part of our electrics so that we could use our well and have heat from our propane backup/2nd stage heat portion of our heat pump. But we still didn’t have water in most of our house. I first assumed that our well house froze up because the electricity was out but found out that my MiL had water. The builders here in South Central Texas run the PEX piping for water supply through the attic; and even though it is close to the ceiling, the pipes had frozen. We did have a couple of our reverse osmosis system taps available but the rest were all frozen. Yep, no toilets would flush more than once. From my understanding PEX is very resilient when frozen and does not tend to break/split.
The MiL did come down and spend Monday night with us. We were able to cook a little dinner as we have a propane cooktop and had a warm evening. Power was back about 05:00 PM and I disconnected the generator. However there were the rolling outages/blackouts dictated by Energy Reliability Counsel of Texas (ERCOT). Power would be on about an hour and off about 30 minutes. But when power was on the heat ran and we were able to stay warm.
On Tuesday the rolling blackouts continued until right around Noon. The power came back on continuous for us about that time but there seems to be the rolling blackouts elsewhere. I suspect this is because the County ambulance service is in the same district we are in. By nightfall we got back most of the water in our house. The last few things defrosted on Wednesday when temperatures went above 400 F. The freezing pipes are a design issues and I am going to contact the builder as our house is only about 2 1/2 years old.
The politics going on about the issues caused by this rare deep freeze in Texas and other places are at the least aggravating me. The Leftist yahoos in Washington D.C. are blaming it on Texas not having enough “green”, “renewable” energy sources since we didn’t vote for them and to be truthful don believe in a lot of their rubish. The massive wind turbine farms in Texas were at a near standstill in this mess because of the cold. The solar farms were at low or no output due to cloud cover and snow covering them. And neither have reserve storage capability, i.e. battery storage. And the jerks in Washington D.C. with their EPA did not allow during the Obama mis-administration and will not allow with the current illegitimate administration clean coal and natural gas back-up capacity to be added. And the Greenies who seem to drive the Democrat Party are so against any form of Nuclear Energy that those sources will never be available. Nuclear Fusion should be in the forefront of the clean energy drive; if it can be brought to practicality, it will solve the imagined CO2 issue with very little radioactive waste and no chance of a nuclear explosion or melt down . The one thing I am glad of is that the Texas power grid is generally independent from the rest of the Nation and we don’t have to generate power for states like California and New York with their overall poor power management.
Enough for now. I did make some progress on my satellite antenna situation which I will post later.