Sunday, January 20, 2013

Damage From The Freeze

It's hard to comprehend the weather here this winter. Today it was in the mid-70s°F and it felt hot. The forecast lows tonight are higher than the high temperature during the day a week ago. Bizarre. The adage that "climate is what you expect; weather is what you get" is utterly outdated. You get what you get, and nothing can be expected any more.

So in case you missed the news, the Southwestern US had a highly unusual spell of cold weather last week. These sorts of arctic blasts aren't unknown, but they typically come down from the north, directed by a big loop in the jet stream, then move on east after a day or two. Instead we had two of these blasts back-to-back with no moving east of the trough, which gave us here in Tucson FIVE NIGHTS of "hard freezes" (a technical term used by local meteorologists) in a row. Here in my neighborhood, that meant 17-23°F each of five nights in a row. On a couple days it didn't get above about 45°F. That is ridiculous. Once every 3 or 4 years for one or two nights is OK. You deal. Five nights in a row? No one here has ever heard of "plugging in your car." You might as well move Fairbanks. You might have seen in this blog a few days ago how I was bringing in my hummingbird feeders in each night, and getting up an hour before sunrise each day to bring them back in. I'm sure glad that's over.

We weren't prepared, nor were our plants. We tried, we tried, and it looked for a few days that everyone around town had decided to do their laundry and hang their fitted sheets out to dry on their plants. But some plants just can't handle more than a few hours much below freezing, no matter how much you cover them with linen. Below you'll see photos of my landlords' grandmothers' lemon tree, a subtropical South African aloe that might yet still have a lovely secondary bloom spike, and the "Barbary Fig" cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) that just couldn't handle the ice crystals in its tissues.

In my next posts I'll continue with some photos from my exciting eight Christmas Bird Counts. I've also gone birding a couple times this past week, baked some exciting bread, knitted a nifty scarf, started on some socks, gone to a couple nice concerts thanks to some generous friends, and began preparing for my next tour, Baja California Sur.

1 comment:

  1. We carried what we could under the patio roof. Most succulents survived. My bell peppers, tomatoes, basil didn't. All latice and arrugula are fine even though they stayed outside uncovered. But of my chiltipins (spelling?) only the ones that I brought inside are alive. Too bad, I hoped they would make it, being native? But who knows where the Tohono Chul ones came from.