Stay Safe during the Inclement Weather!

As many people are aware, during this time, over one-hundred-and-fifty million people are currently being affected by adverse and extreme winter conditions. I do not know how long the internet will be stable at home, so I just wanted to make this quick thread to make sure people in the community are safe during Winter Storm Uri, and the upcoming Winter Storm Viola.


(“National Forecast and Current Condition | The Weather Channel” The Weather Channel, 16 February 2021, https://weather.com/forecast/news/national-forecast-20141009. Accessed 16 February 2021).

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Yep. I haven’t been going out much in NE Ohio lately. But, I know other (younger) birders are out there enjoying the gulls and ducks on the lake and rivers where there is open water. It is difficult because the reason the gulls and ducks are close to shore is because of the north winds and the freezing lake waters. But, one must be cautious during this time.

We use Facebook Messenger to keep in touch in our local birding group. So, if anyone runs into a problem, we can be in touch.

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Here in my part of the Willamette Valley, it is 50F and sunny (at least for now)

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Living in Winnipeg (-38 C last week, -26C this morning), I concur. If you are unfamiliar with snow or cold weather, be very careful. I assume in the S. US that the ground has been warm, so snow will turn to slush/ice, which is extremely hard to navigate. Even temps like -10 C can be dangerous if you do not know how to properly dress for it. For me, it’s a routine thing, but for people in southern states it is novel. I could ramble on about how to stay warm, but a few pointers if you are outside - mitts, not gloves; wool, not cotton; keep your upper body warm, and if you are outside for any length of time, feet as well. Wind will increase heat loss, so protect against it if possible. And yeah, stay safe.

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Today in New York City the temperature reached 51º and it was sunny. it was very nice, but it was not quite as idyllic as it sounds, because there is still lots of snow compacted to ice on the ground; that will take weeks or months to all melt away, as there are a few miniature snow mountains in my neighborhood that are 6 feet tall.

And starting on Thursday late morning we are supposed to get another, maybe 7, inches of snow.

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Yep. I started some small neighborhood drama yelling at some kids to get off a semi frozen pond (seriously, it was cold as hell here for a couple days but that ice is not thick enough to walk on and it’s still that milky white-gray ice)

It’s very apparent that Dallasites don’t know how handle cold and ice like this, or what’s safe and what’s not. Which, fair, because the last time Dallas got this cold and snow was apparently before I was born.

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Yeah, ice bravado is a thing everywhere water gets hard. Around here ice starts forming in November and there are always a few yahoos from the shallow end of the gene pool who end up wet and cold or worse. There’s something about snowmobile exhaust fumes that multiplies the tendency, apparently. Anyway, be safe. Spring is just around the corner.

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Yeah. Ice. The rivers, and whatever water ponds around, freeze to about 2’ thick in the winter. Yet, I won’t even let my dog on the river ice until at least mid December because currents and other factors affect how thick the ice becomes, and how fast. As I said above, for me, this is routine, but for folks who don’t know cold, it is a dangerous thing. The fact that ice if forming means the water temp is basically freezing - if you don’t drown, hypothermia will finish you off.
EDIT- “around here”. Depending on the fall, ice formation starts in November. And to echo @pmeisenheimer, a lot of folks up here who should know, don’t. Trucks went through through the ice on Lake Winnipeg this winter - ice fishers. And some snowmobilers like to play ‘puddle jumping’ in the spring. Racing across open water on a snowmobile. I like to think of Darwin, but most of these people have already had children.

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it was (and still is) a mess in Texas. in Houston, we had temperatures down to -10C or so for a couple of nights, and for about 3 days, more than half of the people in the area had no electricity (which is needed for heat in most houses here). they were supposed to do rolling blackouts, but the cycles of the rolling blackouts seemed to be a day on, a day off (or longer), rather than more frequently. i myself had no heat for about 4 days. but i was able to manage the cold, since my place never got below 5C. but folks in Austin and Dallas had it even worse in terms of temperatures. i’ve heard of fires and carbon monoxide poisonings due to desperate people doing anything to stay warm. i personally know someone who lost children and other family members in a fire due to gas line break…

there were a lot of traffic problems. i went out and cleared ice and snow as much as i could, but i didn’t have the right tools for the job, and there’s only so much one person can do anyway. more than one person driving too dangerously skidded nearby when i was clearing a major sidewalk, and i had to turn away more than a few people trying to drive down particularly dangerous paths before i had a chance to clear them.

the problem right now is water. we’re all under boil water conditions right now, and i had no water for a couple of days. thankfully it’s back for me, but i know a lot of folks who can’t fix busted pipes because plumbers are so busy right now. even the hospital district in Houston had water issues, which didn’t happen even during Hurricane Harvey a few years ago. i hear a lot of folks in institutional settings have/had it really rough, especially in nursing homes and jails, which were already having issues because of Covid-19. people with various chronic conditions – like those who need dialysis – have had it really rough during this time.

now groceries and gasoline are in short supply because lack of power disrupted supply chain and refrigeration, and people used up a lot of stores over the week…

anyway, i checked the iNaturalist observation trend over 2021 in Texas (https://jumear.github.io/stirfry/iNatAPIv1_observation_histogram.html?place_id=18&interval=day&year=2021&date_field=created), and it looks like although observations were down a little bit, they didn’t seem to be down super drastically. so hopefully that means that my fellow Texans on iNaturalist fared well. (i think i was actually a little more prepared for the cold than i otherwise would have been because i have a lot of clothes and other gear that are good for being outdoors. so that’s a little bit of an unexpected benefit from developing a love of nature, i guess.)

i hope everyone in Texas and elsewhere affected made it through relatively unscathed and are recovering well. look after your family, friends, and neighbors, if you can. be well and stay safe.

i haven’t seen any dead birds or other animals. so hopefully that means they figured out a way to survive. there are a lot of dead-looking plants, but hopefully they rebound now that warm weather is returning…

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Oh, gosh! I hope things start turning around soon. That story told me more about what it’s like for Texans than most news stories I’ve read. How do you boil water when the power is off? I saw a news article that asked people to curb energy use in California, especially at night, to help with the energy crisis in Texas. But, that doesn’t seem well publicized.

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It may be a feel good story, but with the exception of the area around El Paso it won’t make any difference in Texas, their power grid is cut off from the national one. Excess conserved energy can’t get there. It may help in other states, but not Texas.

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Thanks. That may explain why it was only in one news story and not widely published.

luckily, most people people’s power was back online before they had to start boiling water. unfortunately, there are a lot of people who (still) don’t have water at all because of burst pipes and lack of plumbers and supplies to fix the situation. in my city, they turned mass vaccination sites into mass water distribution sites, and plumbers are coming into the state to help as much as possible.

there are also a few other pockets in East Texas (Beaumont) and the Panhandle (Lubbock) that are outside of the Texas grid.

in 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast of Texas (Houston, etc.) with 5 consecutive days of heavy rain, causing massive flooding and $125B of damage. (some of the most heavily affected areas still have not fully recovered.) i wouldn’t be surprised if this set of winter storms caused much more damage collectively, since all 4 major metropolitan areas in the state were hit equally hard vs. primarily one in Harvey.

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yeah our outside pipes busted so we’re turning on the water in the morning for a little bit for bathroom/showers, refilling our large coolers for drinking water, etc, then turning it off again for the day. Bit of a pain but better than having my outside pipes spewing.

Can’t get plumbers till Thursday

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