Dear Journal: Texas is a cold reminder to be prepared

  • Sat Feb 20th, 2021 9:30am
  • News

Editor’s note: Karen Harris Tully is a writer who lives in Raymond and has agreed to keep a journal to share with Daily World readers during the odd and uncertain time we’re all navigating.

Dear Journal:

We had our usual once a winter, Southwest Washington snow last weekend. My kids loved it! They had so much fun, we had a snowball fight, sledding, made a snowman. All the gloves and mittens, boots and snow pants we could rustle up came out to play. Some of it didn’t really fit anymore, but we made do. On the other, not so fun hand, our heat pump went out. We still had electric heaters, so we were fine, and thankfully got some amazingly fast service from A R Heating on replacing the heating unit. And the snow quickly melted back to slush and rain. Typical Southwest Washington.

It all makes my heart go out to Texas right now. Record freezing temperatures, millions of people without power or water, pipes freezing all over the place, and bare shelves at the grocery stores. I feel terrible for farmers losing crops, citrus trees, cattle and livestock. It’s hard to think of a worse winter in such a usually warm place. I had to wonder, when has Texas before had such a horrible winter storm? Is this what they call a 100-year storm?

I’m sure we’ll hear an official answer to that question soon, but common sense says, yes, this hardly ever happens in Texas. The data I found said, this week saw the breaking of record low temperatures set in 1989, 1949 when it hit -2 in Dallas, 1909, 1906, 1903, and all the way back to 1895 when Houston got 20 inches of snow on Valentine’s day (more years not listed for space). So yes, record cold temperatures do happen, all across the great state of Texas, they just haven’t been this bad in decades. The power infrastructure, of all types, should have been designed or winterized for this eventuality. Two thirds of Texas’s power comes from coal, natural gas and nuclear, and the remaining third from wind and solar. All types of plants went offline due to the cold.

Which all makes me wonder. What happens, not if but when, a 50-, or 100-year storm or natural disaster happens here? There are tsunami evacuation routes posted all over this area. Experts have been warning of “the big one” ever since I can remember. Sure, we’ve got a few bottles of water and cans of food, but are we at all ready for a disaster to happen without warning? My heart goes out to the people of Texas. But maybe my brain needs to re-evaluate our own preparedness here.

Song of the day: It’s the End of the World as We Know It – REM

Karen Harris Tully is a novelist living in Raymond with her husband and two small children. She writes sci-fi/fantasy for teens and adults and can be found at