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Grey skies and black ice…

Posted by on January 8, 2015

JANUARY 8, 2014


The weather forecast calls for a “wintry mix.” Read about it.

IT’S COLD IN THE HILL COUNTRY!  So cold that we’re having second thoughts about spending next winter here, even though we love the area. Perhaps we’ll return for a visit in the fall but leave for the Gulf Coast or Florida right after Thanksgiving.  Who knows? Anyway, the low temperature last night here at Buckhorn Lake was just 19 degrees. The national weather service forecast is for highs this week in the mid 30’s and sustained winds as strong as 20 mph! A “wintry mix” of sleet, snow and freezing rain is predicted. Even with our new heated water hose, which combines a drinking-water-safe hose with a self-regulating heat source encapsulated in an all-weather, PVC coating,  I wasn’t able to wring even a drop from the kitchen sink when I tried in the middle of the night! I know the hose works…we tested it before we installed it, so I guess the water must have frozen at the source by the post, before even entering the new hose. Fortunately we can use the drinking water from our tank. UPDATE: We wrapped the water pipe on the post with insulation tape and now our water has been flowing freely, even though the cold temps continue. We learn as we go, although I’m going to try to avoid these weather conditions in the future.

DANGEROUS ROAD CONDITIONS. We’d planned a day trip with friends to the LBJ Ranch today, but postponed it because of a collective lack of interest in being outdoors in weather like this, along with the possibility of truly dangerous road conditions.  As I’ve stated more than once, this Southern California boy is quickly learning that considerations about winter weather in most parts of the country are significant. All the news reports one hears about winter power outages and folks who can’t afford to pay their heating bills have new meaning to me. It’s one thing driving in rain or even snow, but under our current conditions there are far more dangerous conditions possible until it warms up again. One is black ice.


Black ice on the road, almost impossible to spot, can make road conditions treacherous!

BLACK ICE ON THE ROADS. I’ve learned that winter brings many dangers for motorists and one of the most threatening is slippery and hard-to-spot black ice. I guess I’d heard the term “black ice” before, but I’d never really understood it or paid much attention. Sometimes called clear ice, it refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface. While not truly black, it is virtually transparent, allowing black asphalt to be seen through it. It forms on the roads when the air temperature is 32 degrees or below at the surface and rain is falling. It’s extremely difficult to spot, but is often located on bridges or overpasses because they often freeze quickly. For the last few months as we drove from Colorado through New Mexico and into Texas, I’ve noticed signs before every single bridge on the roads stating “bridge may ice during periods of cold weather.” Now I get it. While driving in rain or even snow, your tires have some traction. With black ice there is no traction at all. Not good. Not safe.

A CHANGE OF PLANS. So, the walk by the lake I’d planned for this morning has been replaced by writing this post while having a cup of steaming hot chocolate. And we’ll get to the LBJ ranch on a warmer day next week. It’s not going anywhere between now and then! Stay tuned.

UPDATE: January 9, 2014. 11 pm. Wow! I just had an experience that really brings home what I’ve blogged in this post. Frozen rain started here about an hour ago. When going down the steps in our motorhome to go to the casita just now, black ice that I couldn’t see had obviously formed on the steps. They were as slick as, well…ice! I had to use both of the hand rails and very deliberate steps to get outside safely. Lesson learned! I simply will not drive, ever, in these conditions. Amazing!


Icicles on the Jeep’s fender.


The roof on our casita.










Motorhome step.


Our patio table.













Hopefully this cold snap won’t last too long. We’re anxious to get outside again and see more of the Hill Country. Once it warms up a bit, we’ll find some more places to explore. Plan to join us, won’t you?

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