They said that the snow and ice that impacted Texas in the winter of 2021 was caused by a rare polar vortex. It was bad and unprecedented in that it affected certain parts of the state not used to weather extremes. This may be true but in some ways it was normal for Texas. Some of the worst winter weather we have ever experienced was in Texas.
Three storms were especially exceptional. Ruth & I planned to visit Palo Duro Canyon. The day before we were due there, we were in Canyon, Texas. The ice storm there was so bad that we stayed in our motel room all day. It was a Sunday. Our only outing that entire day was a brief trip to Amarillo in the morning. We barely made it back to Canyon. Luckily the restaurant next to our motel was able to open so we had food. Otherwise we stayed in our room and watched ice accumulate outside our window. The next day was better, but it snowed in the morning. We finally made it to Palo Duro Canyon about 11 am. The weather improved all day and that’s the thing about Texas winters. It can be awful but then turn beautiful.
Another time we barely made it to Fort Worth during a historic ice storm that saw a huge increase in auto accidents. Everything in Fort Worth but Starbucks was closed. We didn’t linger in either Starbucks or the city, but the weather never improved.
Another time we traveled across central Texas north of Austin and the temperature never rose above 32 degrees all day. We were the only vehicle on the road. I stopped and took several pictures like the one below of the ice covered landscape.
Another time we were in Fredericksburg west of Austin when a snowstorm struck on a Saturday night. We had had very bad weather all day. I took the photo of the fountain below on that day.
Texas is a land of extremes. It had an unprecedented tornado in Waco that did a lot of damage to the city. They still talk about the hurricane that almost destroyed the city of Galveston in 1900. More than 6,000 people died. It was the subject of Erik Larson’s book that became a successful movie. Called Isaac’s Storm, the book was a bestseller. The Washington Post called it “the Jaws of hurricane yarns.” In 2010 a series of thunderstorms struck the Texas plains on the 4th of July. The city of Lubbock was affected. Texans experienced roadway closures, and more than 100 vehicles were damaged. It’s estimated that the negative economic impact of these storms amounted to 16.5 million dollars.
Texas has had unusual and violent weather. The historic winter storm of 2021 that led to unprecedented power outages and chaos was certainly one of them, but Ruth and I were not terribly surprised by it.