View from the Suburbs: “Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow” After the Rains Came Through? Check Out the Rainfall Amounts and Other Houston Weather

 

The beans were complaining after the rain, but the kitschy chickens didn't even squawk. (5-15-10)

During my drive home last evening, the dark clouds only got more ominous on my Friday evening drive to the northwest.  I was hoping to at least pick up my mail and get Annie outside before the rain started, but the first drops started coming down with a couple of miles still to go.  There were just sprinkles coming down when I finally got into the house, but the thunder was already going and Annie had to be coaxed to go out evening after waiting so many hours.

A garden and a rain guage go together like apple pie and ice cream!

The heavy rain started falling around six o’clock, and half of the 2.60 inches of rain (now almost 3 inches including the slower rain that fell from about 10 AM to 2 PM today) that my rain guage shows (near S.H. 529 and Huffmeister) fell within the first hour.  (I headed out to check between showers.)  The amounts seemed to vary quite a bit across the county from about a half inch to almost 5 inches.  (Take a look at the Harris County HS & EM Rainfall Map via the link on this blog’s right sidebar.  It’s a cool reference map, and updates quickly even as the rain is falling.)

The garden was in somewhat of a disarray after so much rain pouring down heavily in a short period; however, nothing was really damaged that much.  Most of the beans, which had been growing tall and gangly, had been pushed over and some of the leaves were matted into the muddy soil.  A couple of the tomato plants also had to be righted again and restaked, but for the most part, everything looked happy to have real rainwater after nearly a month with nothing but the stuff from the hose.

Though the garden is small and the soil not the best, I’ve already picked a few radishes, some green onions, and yesterday morning, the first tomato, which is from a plant that I had stuck into a container, before I had even thought about actually having a garden plot.

It looks as if the heavy rains might not be over with a 70% chance for rain today (Saturday, May 15th) along with a flood watch and some rain predicted every day for awhile.  Here’s the forecast for our neck of the woods (You just gotta love weather lingo!):

Friday, May 21st: Partly sunny, with a high near 90. South wind between 5 and 10 mph.

Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 74. South wind between 5 and 15 mph.

Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. South southeast wind between 5 and 15 mph.

Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 75.

Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

Sunday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 73.

Monday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

Monday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 70.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow–Wintery Weather Comes to Houston, Rare Event for the Bayou City

As predicted, snow and colder temperatures started out the day in Houston.  The outside temp in my car on the way to work was in the high 30s this morning.  Small bits of icy drops started hitting the windshield as I left the neighborhood, but near downtown,  the heavy wet flakes started coming down.  Some kind of precipitation–from rain to sleet to the more frequent snowflakes–kept coming down throughout the morning and afternoon.  Many schools and businesses let students and employees go home early in anticipation of wet, and perhaps icy roads, as the temperature was predicted to keep dropping.

I was able to start for home at 3 PM, and by that time, the outside temp reading was 32 degrees.  Traffic was slow as drivers cautiously maneuvered the streets and freeways.  However, when I got back to my neighborhood, the sun started peeking out from behind the clouds.  With the sky now almost clear and dry and the sun setting, the air felt significantly colder this evening when Annie and I started for outr walk to the mailboxes around the corner from our cul-de-sac.  Even dolled up in her pink pea coat, she resisted the short trip and was not game for our usual walk that we take after getting the mail.

After lows in the mid to upper 20s tonight, the temperatures are expected to bounce back into the fifties tomorrow, and this little jolt of cold will have passed.  But snow and cold in early December is unusual for Houston.  Is this an indicator of a colder than usual winter?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Here’s what NWS says for us in the next few days:

Tonight (Dec. 15th): A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 43. North wind between 15 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Wednesday: A 30 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53. Northeast wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Wednesday Night: A 50 percent chance of rain. Cloudy, with a low around 42. North wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Thursday: A 30 percent chance of rain, mainly before noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54. Northeast wind between 10 and 15 mph.

Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 39.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 61.

A Walk to the Park with Annie

Bougainvillea and a Mailbox

Bougainvillea and a Mailbox

Annie and Azaleas

Annie and Azaleas

On This Side of the Path

On This Side of the Path

What great days we have been having here in Houston since I got back from Colorado–nice clear afternoons with a cool breeze. Annie and I took our walk through part of Memorial Park, starting out just at 5 PM. In my pocket, I carried my new little camera (Nikon Coolpix S230) to try it out on some of the sights we might see.

Flags Behind the Fence (Yes, I know they're irises, but we always called them flags on the farm.

Flags Behind the Fence (Yes, I know they're irises, but we always called them flags on the farm.)

Color Pops

Color Pops

Christmas in February? Or Maybe Even March? How About April? These Blossoms Bring Out the Spirit Even If They Are A Bit Confused

March 8th--The first of the yellow buds to open.  It's just the palest of yellow with a bright pink stamen.  The pinks are still going.  Their flowers seem to last a long time.

March 8th--The first of the yellow buds to open. It's just the palest of yellow with a bright pink stamen. The pinks are still going. Their flowers seem to last a long time.

April 1st--And it's no April Fool's joke.  This is a single blossom on a plant that was in full bloom before Christmas.

April 1st--And it's no April Fool's joke. This is a single blossom on a plant that was in full bloom before Christmas.

It’s just the most pleasant Saturday morning. It’s crazy, but every weekday morning when I have to pull myself out of bed, I tell myself, “Wait ’til Saturday,” knowing that I’ll be able to take Annie out for her morning “ablutions” (damn, I thought that word was spelled with an ‘O’, I guess I got it confused with “abolition”, ha) and crawl back into bed for another round of sleep. However, it seems that each week, by Friday, I’m ready to get myself into bed at a normal person’s bedtime, so Saturday morning, no matter the weather, I’m fairly awake and the warm bed doesn’t pull me back in.

There are never enough pictures of Annie!  She "sits" with the Christmas cactus.

Feb. 28th--There are never enough pictures of Annie! She "sits" with the Christmas cactus.

This Saturday morning is no exception. It’s quite pleasant outside, not warm at all but fresh feeling and fresh smelling (the air, not me–yet), but there are some clouds in the north that look as if they might bring some showers or, perhaps, keep the day on the grey-side. However, even the prospect of rain didn’t push me back under the covers, so while my coffee was brewing (Saturdays and Sundays only), I got all my plants–inside and out–watered.

Most of the time I have no plants inside, but late in December, because I was going out of town for the holidays, I brought in my Christmas cactuses, most of which were already in full bloom, although the flowers in each pot were in varying stages of being at their peak: the nearly white one had already passed its best moments; the fuschia had many blooms but some had already dropped off; the new yellow one, which I had just bought at the Farmer’s Market, was completely aglow; the true red one, which may be my favorite as a Christmas plant, had buds that were just starting to open; the smallest one, which comes from pieces that have dropped from the others, had the tiniest of buds on the ends of its leaves.

One gorgeous, but lone blossom.  This red plant was in full bloom right after Christmas.  This one came back out of jealousy, I think, because of the pink.

Feb. 28th--One gorgeous, but lone blossom. This red plant was in full bloom right after Christmas. This one came back out of jealousy, I think, because of the pink.

When I returned home ten days later, the Christmas cactuses looked a sad lot sitting there on the window sill, except for the red one, which is perhaps the hardiest; there were just a lot of dried-up blossoms hanging from the plants or already dropped onto the sill and floor. Even the little one had lost its buds, the ones I had been so curious to know what color (or wishful thinking–what colors) they would be. After about a week, even the Christmasy red had finished its blooming. “So that was that,” I said to myself, thinking that I would have to wait another year for the colorful show that these small plants make just once a year.

Feb. 28th--The yellow one has some buds too.  They are much slower to open than the others.

Feb. 28th--The yellow one has some buds too. They are much slower to open than the others.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, as I was watering them, I noticed something on the small plant that hadn’t bloomed. “Were those little nubbins on the ends of some of the leaves buds?” I hoped. “Or maybe just new little leaves.” But in a day or so, I could see for sure. Buds! So thinking what else I could do for good measure, I stuck in about half of one of the Miracle Grow fertilizer sticks that I had found hidden away. And just to be fair, each of the other plants got a piece too.

christmas-cactus-bloom2

Feb. 21st--Taken with the still setting on my Everio Camcorder because my digital camera has decided to go retro and take pictures like it's the 60s on LSD--not bad quality for a camcorder still, huh?

Now here we are, February 21st, and this small Christmas cactus is giving out its happy show of color! Theses are just the first blooms, there are at least 10 more buds in varying stages, that will be opening in the weeks to come. And as if not to be outdone, both the yellow plant and the red on either side of this one have buds, though just a few. I’m anxious to see the yellow blossoms again, because I never really had time to appreciate them in December.

It’s amazing really, how nature will surprise us, and give us so much joy.

It’s these surprises and differences in nature that always seem to wow us. Why is it when it comes to people, so many of us search for those that are familiar and those who are most like we are, and tend to push away the ones who are different?

Why is it that we don’t find joy in the amazing differences that others have?

Feb. 28th--This bright pink Christmas cactus is just going strong.  No blossom has even dropped off since they started opening more than a week ago.

Feb. 28th--This bright pink Christmas cactus is just going strong. No blossom has even dropped off since they started opening more than a week ago.

About the Bayous in the Houston Area and the Houston Ship Channel

The Port of Houston Turning Basin near the 610 Loop Bridge that crosses the Channel.  Beyond the basin, the ship channel becomes more of its original self--Buffalo Bayou with downtown Houston in the background.

The Port of Houston Turning Basin near the 610 Loop Bridge that crosses the Channel. Beyond the basin, the ship channel becomes more of its original self–Buffalo Bayou with downtown Houston in the background.

About Bayous in Southeast Texas and Houston Area

During Hurricane Ike, local officials and residents were worried about the surge from the storm pushing water up into the area bayous and flooding low-lying parts of the city. (For people out of the area, Houstonians call the area’s streams that flow into Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico “bayous”.) The primary bayou, which also flows through a large part of the city and finally down through downtown Houston, is Buffalo Bayou.

In the early days of the city, Buffalo Bayou once was the site of a port in what is now downtown Houston. Later, there was a major dredging of Buffalo Bayou from Galveston Bay, and this is what is now known as the Houston Ship Channel and is the site of the current Port of Houston. However, the Houston Ship Channel ends at the Turning Basin, which is in a part of Houston known as Harrisburg (which, in the early days of Texas, was a separate settlement), several miles down Buffalo Bayou from that old Houston port. Very close to the Houston Ship Channel are some of the primary refineries and chemical plants of the entire Gulf Coast area.

Bayous are a bit different than regular rivers or streams because the water can flow in both directions, moving backwards, or upstream, when the tide is high.

The old port of Houston on Buffalo Bayou that was used from the early days of the city until 1914 when what is now the Port of Houston was started about six miles further downstream.

The old port of Houston on Buffalo Bayou that was used from the early days of the city until 1914, when what is now the Port of Houston was started about six miles further downstream.

Hurricane Ike–Check Out the Expected Wind Speed For Your Houston Zip Code

The expected wind speeds for the various zip codes throughout the metropolitan Houston area were shown on an interactive site pre-Ike; that page is no longer in service. However, Hurricane Ike wind speeds and other specific data such as rainfall amounts for locations along the entire track of the storm are given in the Tropical Cyclone Report, which the National Hurricane Center has recently (January 23, 2009, and updated February 4, 2009) come out with about the storm which hit the Texas coast.  It is an extensive report; look for Houston and other Texas locations on page 28. You will also need the Meteorological Converter to change kt’s into MPH.

In addition, NASA has an excellent, in-depth report on Hurricane Ike, which you can see here.

After Hurricane Ike–Dealing with the Effects; Information Links for Residents of Harris, Galveston, and Neighboring Counties

Updated at 9:00 PM CDT, Friday, September 19th–Hurricane Ike passed through the area last Saturday AM.

The following links connect to Harris and surrounding county offices.  Each gives specific information relating to dealing with the after-effects of Hurricane Ike in that particular county.

NASA has an excellent in-depth page on Hurricane Ike here.