The Hot Weather


This pretty much says it all…

Here in Texas, we expect it to be hot. It is a part of who we are and has a lot to say for how tough Texans are. As with Nature, no two summers are alike and this one, for us so far, has been pretty good. It’s been hot but nothing that that we cannot put up with.

However and finally, the really hot weather is upon us as here in Austin, we have reached the 100 degree mark. It’s been close a few times over the past couple of months but has not quite reached that “magic” number. The day before yesterday was different as we breached that with the temperature at my house at 101 degrees. Add in the humidity and were looking at 104-105 degrees, hot enough to fry the proverbial egg on the sidewalk.

That has continued and is forecast to hang around even longer and to go as high as 104-105 which by anyone’s standards, even ours, is bloody hot. Even though we say we are used to it that is not really true as though the body may tolerate the heat, one is never really comfortable in it.

I had an incident a month or so ago hiking at McKinney Roughs when the heat gave me some pretty serious problems. That is all I can think of as the reason that I came light headed and a bit disoriented on a walk that I had done a couple of times before and had not been affected then.

When I first arrived in Texas in 1977, I came down from New York State where it was hot when it reached 85 degrees, with the explicit purpose of working construction as a Project Manager building new schools in the Round Rock School District in a time of real productivity for the area. The first summer nearly did me in but I stuck it out working alongside the men who had no options other than to brave the heat. We covered our skins, put on suntan lotion, wore hats and sunglasses and drank a lot of water and although I would not like to say we got used to it, we were able to tolerate it. One thing you learn to do in these hot conditions is to keep an eye on your workmates not to see if they were working hard but to see how the heat was affecting them. Those that showed signs of faintness or dizziness were immediately attended to and sent to rest until they could continue.

After nearly four years of that job and three schools later, I was hired on at the University of Texas as a Planner and eventually as the Planning and Scheduling Manager out of the sun for the rest of my working life. I retired from there twenty two years later.

That is not to say that I never went out in the sun again as I can remember playing soccer in Dallas at a Tournament with the temperature at 108 degrees and another time in Houston where it was equally as hot. Normally, players can’t wait to get in the game but in both of those tournaments, when anyone came off needing a sub, the chances were the team would be playing short as no one wanted to take their place. Those were the good old days.

Nowadays, I have the luxury of picking and choosing if and when I go out in the heat other than appointments and such. I try to get any outside work done early and then spend the rest of the time writing stories for my blog. Needless to say, hiking has been put on a back burner until it starts to cool down. I like to listen to Audiobooks and usually spend the afternoon driving around enthralled by some story or another written by Authors that really know how to write and keep me in suspense.

My truck stays very cool and comfortable although the miles are mounting up and I know every square inch of all of the local roads and lanes….

Written 3/10/2019

This and That…


child_games_in_wonderful_soccer_dreams

I commented in the last couple of blogs just how hot it is here in my part of  Central Texas. It is like this every year with some years worse than others. The record was set in 2011 when Austin at Camp Mabry, one of the weather recording centers, registered 83 consecutive days with the temperatures 100 degrees or more. It doesn’t matter what way you look at it, that was a bloody hot summer. Luckily, the humidity was low which made it a little more bearable.

We have just had our first 100 degree days this past week with the thermometer reaching 100 on three consecutive days. There are thunderstorms forecast for the next couple of days which will bring some welcome relief. Along with the high temperatures there are all sort of bye products caused by the heat. Things like high electric bills with the A/C units at full blast and in many cases, replacement units due to the older models breaking down. Try to imagine what the inside of a house is like with no A/C when the outside temperature is 100 degrees or higher. Fans are a big help but they only move the hot air around as they don’t cool it.

If you are an avid gardener, it is a heartbreaking struggle to keep your precious plants alive especially if you are on city water and there are watering restrictions. Austin gets most of its water from the Highland Lakes which is a chain of six freshwater lakes in Central Texas formed by six dams on the lower Colorado River. A heat wave like the one in 2011 actually lowered the lake water quite considerably as the water evaporates along with the demands from all of the Municipalities downstream. It took several years for the lake levels to return to normal after that and it was officially declared a drought.

In my younger days, thirty or so years ago, I was still an avid soccer player at the top Amateur level. The teams I played with would often go away to Tournaments in Dallas or Houston or sometimes even further afield to New Orleans or Florida. These Tournaments were nearly always in the summer, again the hottest time of the year but although they were competitive, it was only for fun. Apart from getting to play several games over a weekend, we went for the company and camaraderie that belonging to a team brings. And the beer of course, lots of beer. I remember on two separate occasions, one in Dallas and the other in Houston when the heat got to us more than usual.

The Dallas Tournament was played on a large soccer complex which like all such complexes was built with very little shade around the fields. Our particular field had Flood Lights surrounding the field mounted on six, sixty foot metal poles. This was the only shade close to the field and spectators and players not in the game were all standing in a line in the shadow of the poles with a larger group at the end where the bank of lights projected a bigger shadow. It was pretty funny. The actual temperature that day was 108 degrees, the hottest that I have ever played in. The game itself was played in slow motion with the players trying to conserve as much energy as possible and when they wanted to sub out, they had the greatest difficulty in finding someone to take their place.  Usually, subs are lined up just waiting to get into the game but not on that particular day. I can’t remember much about the game or even if we won as the heat was the overriding factor for all of us.

The Tournament in Houston was very much the same with very high temperatures. The difference was that in Houston, being close to the sea, the humidity was through the roof which made it appear to be much hotter than it really was. Humidity saps the strength right out of you whether you are used to it or not. The same thing happened as in the Dallas Tournament except there were no floodlights to provide shade. In the second half players were subbing in and out at a tremendous rate as in these Amateur games, subs are unlimited. In the end, it got to where you couldn’t find anyone willing to go back in which meant that you had to stay on the field or if you came off anyway, the team had to play short. That game was truly a miserable experience for both teams. I can’t remember who won and in truth, really didn’t care.

On the home front with all of my ponds, I have to be very careful to make sure that there is no water wastage from anywhere. As it is, keeping the water cool enough for the Koi and Goldfish during these periods of high temperatures is a difficult task. The only real way is to keep the water moving with waterfalls and water features and plant lots of Lilies and water shading plants. The other big problem it to maintain the oxygen levels in the water as the heat tends to deplete the amount of oxygen. I have separate bubblers in all of my ponds which this time of the year are running non stop and even with these precautions, it not a bit unusual to find fish floating on the top.

I have all native plants in my garden which I tend to let grow wild only trimming them where my pathways are or maybe to keep them from crowding out the other growth. If I  have to water them to keep them alive I have installed an underground soaker hose system which if absolutely necessary, will run at night on timers. This is enough to keep the plants alive without wasting too much water in overspill. My garden is really a jungle in disguise which makes it much easier to maintain.

The one redeeming factor is that we can look forward to the Hurricane Season and since 80% of the North Atlantic Hurricanes form from June through October, hurricane season is declared from June 1 to November 30. The months when storms are most frequent on the Texas coast are August and September. If we do get any at all and that is not a certainty, we will probably get cooler temperatures and rain which if it is in excessive amounts will bring its own problems.

Texas has a saying, “If you don’t like the Texas weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”. This saying is also credited to many other States to which it can apply.

Written on another hot day in Texas.
7/3/2018