If you were trying to access this site Thursday night or Friday morning, you discovered our server was down. Violent storms ripped through central Texas late Thursday night, knocking out power

May 6th, 2006
When it Rains it Pours

This year it looks like May is vying to take back its title of one of Austin’s rainiest months. After a disappointing showing in 2005, May 2006 has started out with a bang–the bang of thunder, the boom of transformers blowing out during a power surge, and the crash of trees felling power lines.

Tuesday (5/2) afternoon, I got caught in thunderstorm as I headed home from the gym in rush hour traffic. That was a comparitively pleasant prelude to Thursday (5/4) night. Around 10PM, 70mph winds begin whipping through the trees and almost immediately our power surge protectors squealed and we lost power. According to Austin Energy, Thursday’s storm resulted in the biggest power outage in Austin since 2000.

And then it poured–not just for 10 minutes or so as it often does, but for what seemed like more than an hour. I was glad to see my terraces keeping the water from running off into the street. My drainage area held four inches of standing water at one point. And for once the garage didn’t flood.

We were luckier than many. Our yard was littered in ball moss and dead branches, but only a few smaller, live limbs were torn off trees by the high winds. Just around the corner a live oak tree had split in half and fallen across power lines. Neighborly residents hung socks along the downed lines to alert motorists.

Friday night was a repeat performance, though less windy and with less rain over a longer time. Thursday night we got over three inches of rain; Friday, maybe 2 inches.

Does this mean that Austin’s drought is broken? Or is this the last rain we’ll see until September. Stay tuned.

photo: Zanthan Gardens July 15, 2002
2002-07-15. The meadow.

July 15th, 2002
It’s a Jungle Out There

In a typical summer, the six weeks following Independence Day is season special to the south that I call “the Dead of Summer”. Until autumn rains sweep up from the Gulf (beginning the last week of August when we’re lucky) our gardens are at their bleakest. Temperatures top 100 degrees. Rain is nil. Although the 100 degree days average ten a summer, in 1991 we had 40. And rains never came. Ditto 1990.
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Pleasure of an unexpected rain.

May 28th, 2002
Wow! Rain!

In Austin, it’s just not a Memorial Day weekend without some severe weather. Having been cheated out of the last two predicted chances for rain, I didn’t even look at the forecast. Then at 1:11 AM, I was awakened by pouring rain and thunder. It rained for a good twenty minutes, resulting in more than an inch of rain. I got up, just to go outside and smell it.

This morning, the rain barrel is full and the entire yard looks fresh again. The rain sifts through the sand of the new paths and makes them even and clean. All the mulch I spread yesterday is also evenly sifted over the beds. The smell of the damp earth is intoxicating. Best of all, there is a chance for more rain this afternoon.