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Although the Northeast got the deep snow and national headlines; the Southwest got record breaking (but non national headline producing) low temperatures.

Last I heard locally we'd set new record lows three days in a row. All along the Texas/Mexico border from El Paso/Juárez to Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras to Nuveo/Laredo to McAllen/Reynosa electrical power plants, gas and water utilities were going down due to the single digit cold temperatures.

Locally I've seen news video from utility sites of four and five inch cast iron pipes split wide open with cracks a foot or more long and half an inch wide. One shot showed the open end of an eight or ten inch pipe filled with ice for all except a small two inch opening in the center. Another TV station showed a utility worker in a hard hat and a hoodie (we ain't used to cold around here) playing a big blow torch over water pipes in an effort to thaw them out.

The electricity generating stations designed to withstand months of 110 degree Southwestern summer heat couldn't take ten degrees. At one point temperatures got down to around three degrees around here.

The simplest solution would be for the utility to wrap the pipes in those heating wires that Home Depot sells to home owners to keep their pipes from freezing, but I don't expect that. Instead they'll come up with some multimillion dollar scheme to solve a problem that only occurs every dozen years or so.

Tuesday night the 10 PM weather guys came on smiling like clams; at last the weather was exciting, they didn't have to fake it tonight. The temperatures were going to get down into the single digits!

We'd had a frozen pipe break out back behind the store during similar weather many years ago so I knew what to expect. I bundled up and went out to disconnect the hoses and turn the faucets on just enough so they'd drip all night. The constant flow of comparatively warmer water would keep the water in them from freezing and busting our pipes.

On the spigot out front I had the standard issue gray foam wrap around the pipe where it came out of the wall plus a washcloth taped over that AND one of those hard foam cup thingies over the whole thing so I was tempted to just leave it in place, but I figured better safe than sorry and did the drip thing. Good thing.

In the backyard the spigot had just the gray foam wrapper and taped washcloth and was already frozen. I couldn't turn it on even with pliers. I had to use a tea pot of boiling water to thaw it out enough so that I could turn it on to drip.

Got back inside in time to learn that all the local school districts were declaring snow days.

Wednesday morning just after I logged on to the Internet the power went out. My uninterruptible power supply kept the computer on but I knew it wouldn't last long and the connection to my Internet Service Provider was dead anyway so I shut down the computer and even turned off the monitor to save the battery.

What does a modern man do sans Internet? Chores? Read a book? Contemplate the intricacies of the Universe?

Hell no, I needed INPUT!

I could have dug out the hand crank/solar radio, but instead I jerry-rigged an extension cord from the uninterruptible power supply to one of my Bose Wave radios. These things are great for helping to reset all the clocks in the house after a power outage. The Bose time display goes off and the radio won't play until the power comes back on, but its internal clock will keep track of the time for days.

Now that I was reconnected I not only felt better, but found out that I was participating in a "voluntary" rolling blackout. Oh the joys!

The local news was also reporting water damage from burst pipes and icy road related accidents all over town. Defying entreaties from our esteemed local crooks er... I mean government… my wife went down to the Korean grocery store to trade in a dozen bootleg CDs of the latest Korean soap opera for the next installment of same (I mean, after all, priorities are priorities!) and saw a car that had slid off the freeway, down the embankment and (with great skill) managed to hit the only telephone phone for over a hundred feet in either direction.

An hour later the power came back on (we would lose it again for about another hour that evening) and I got my Internet fix.

The city crooks er… I mean fathers… requested local businesses to close so as to save electricity. Of course they weren't offering to take a pay cut along with anyone who took their advice.

RIGHT! We're going into the biggest winter storm in over a decade and these clowns at the electric company want to save their rear ends by closing the stores that sell the stuff people are gunn'a need like food, batteries, bottled water and generators.

I wish I could have been around to hear the language at the local clothing stores when they heard the news that they were supposed to close down right in the middle of their last best chance to dump er… I mean put on sale… those winter clothes they'd be stuck with next spring if they don't sell the rags er… I mean quality clothing… soon, I'll bet I could have learned a few new swear words.

The evening news was full of stories about people whose pipes had burst during the night and begun spraying water as the day warmed up. There were also interviews with plumbers trying to contain their glee as they told of being booked solid for days.

More to the point, the local water utility was annoyed that people were calling them to come fix burst pipes in their homes and apartments. Didn't these people know the utility is only responsible for pipes up to the meter? The water utility PR guy came on to emphasize this point with every newscast.

Thursday, the rolling blackouts continue and as an added bonus we're warned of impending water and gas shortages. The news shows video of ceilings collapsed by water from burst pipes in the floor of the apartment above.

The frustrated utilities are now threatening unspecified legal action against business that remain open, the schools are still closed and people are thinking the utilities and politicians can stick it where the sun don't shine as they stock up on stuff they should have had before the weather struck.

Friday, Went to Costco and saw some guy loading the back of an SUV with four electric generators. Inside Costco had three 7000 watt and one 9500 watt generators left plus one on a cart soon to become someone else's home backup.

We threw an extra case of Costco's low salt Spam into the cart but really didn't need anything else extra and my HUMMER's gas tank was already full so we went home.

That night we saw more pictures of burst water pipes, collapsed ceilings and smiling plumbers as the politicos and utility PR people continued to claim all was well stay in your homes and don't use any more gas, electricity or water than you absolutely have to (or we'll cut you off!). One TV station proudly proclaimed they were without drinking water due to burst pipes.

Saturday my wife came home from church with the news that hers was one of at least three area churches with burst pipes and no water.

But then came the really important news: the voluntary rolling blackouts were officially over. Evidently the officials had contemplated what would happen (Oh the Humanity!) if they tried to pull a rolling blackout during the Super Bowl.:eek:
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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It was sure a mess for a while there. My neighborhood was repeatedly targetted for the rolling blackouts, so other neighborhoods didn't have to pull their share of the load. It'd go out for 45 minutes, then on for 30, then right back out, over and over. Meanwhile the neighborhoods surrounding us didn't go out once. GRRRRRR

It was nice not having to go out and get anything. I just sat back and enjoyed being left alone. Friday I had to grocery shop for the nursing home and the stores were crowded with people who couldn't get out to shop for the previous couple days, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

Had a pipe break and cause damage at the nursing home though. That's going to be a problem and an expense later on. Couldn't get a plumber because they were all swamped, and couldn't turn off the water because the residents needed the bathrooms and such. So, just had to accept the flooding and damage.
 

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After they announced the natural gas shortage the stores where cleaned out of heaters. But most heaters where electric and with the blackouts they wont due much good.
 

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We were on Vacation and didn't come back to El Paso until late Friday when the worst had happened. Obviously with no power our heat didn't work and thus our pipes froze. I am still waiting for someone to come here to fix the one pipe that burst, which should happen later today. I had to make a homemade fix using lots of duct tape, a piece of rubber house, a steel clamp, and a tiedown strap to hold the pipe together shortterm so me and my family could have water. Thankfully I'm only a renter and when I build my house in a few years I'll be much better prepared for this situation since I originally hail from a northern environment where people know how to prepare for situations like this.
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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We were on Vacation and didn't come back to El Paso until late Friday when the worst had happened. Obviously with no power our heat didn't work and thus our pipes froze. I am still waiting for someone to come here to fix the one pipe that burst, which should happen later today. I had to make a homemade fix using lots of duct tape, a piece of rubber house, a steel clamp, and a tiedown strap to hold the pipe together shortterm so me and my family could have water. Thankfully I'm only a renter and when I build my house in a few years I'll be much better prepared for this situation since I originally hail from a northern environment where people know how to prepare for situations like this.
That's great that you could improvise a field repair until the plumbers get there. I hope your belongings didn't get damaged.
 

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this is what is starting to really concern me that just maybe the scientists are right and the gulf stream has at least slowed and is causeing a rippleing effect as the jets stream goes haywire :eek:

only time will see if we still see odd weather patterns this summer, you best get all the cold weather cloths thats on clearance as you can you just might need it.

one good thing that has come out of all this cold weather my wife see the need in haveing a few emergancy water storage 15 gal barrels. i keep them outside ATM empty when the weather forcast called for snow she suggested i get some water stored up just in case :wow: her 1st prep thought :eek: ahhh!! her 1st steps in to a MUCH bigger world :D:


and i learned i need a waterbed faucet connection and a small hose it will make indoor filling those barrels ALOT eaiser :thumb:
 

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That's great that you could improvise a field repair until the plumbers get there. I hope your belongings didn't get damaged.
Thankfully the leak was in our garage and we were ok, we finally got everything fixed but as I'm sure you know the home improvement stores here in EP are out of everything so I won't be able to add plumbing fixtures to my stockpile for a few weeks or so. Glad you got out of this unscathed as well.
 

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it one of those things in life that it just amazeing to me that people in the southwest get down to low temps at times in the winter time ..
 

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Thankfully the leak was in our garage and we were ok, we finally got everything fixed but as I'm sure you know the home improvement stores here in EP are out of everything so I won't be able to add plumbing fixtures to my stockpile for a few weeks or so. Glad you got out of this unscathed as well.
I found that out as well. Our leak was also in the garage, and I couldn't turn off the water to the house for long. I hit the home improvement stores trying to find brass pipe, or caps, or anything I could use to repair it, but no such luck. All in all, the plumber bill wasn't too bad. I don't think we had much damage but I won't know until I can inspect further. It was at my business. My home came through it 100%, thankfully.
 

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Super Moderator and Walking Methane Refinery
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it one of those things in life that it just amazeing to me that people in the southwest get down to low temps at times in the winter time ..
This was just a freak storm. Normally we rarely even dip into the teens here. But about every 8-10 years we have an ice storm and get down pretty chilly. This one set new records though. Luckily it didn't last long and most local damage was relatively minor. It gives me more empathy to those who live in harsher winter climates though.
 

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http://www.ktsm.com/news/water-crisis-almost-over-restrictions-lifted-tonight

anyone know why the boil water notice? i understand the supply is/was low. thankfully i didn't have any busted pipes and never lost water. although Tuesday i was without power/heat for 4 hours until about 10-10:30pm.
I didn't even know we had a boil water notice. That would explain my stomach problems last night I guess. I normally use water from the undersink filter, but I ended up having to use water from the tap because the sediment in the lines after the water came back on clogged my filter. Had some nausea and a gurgling tummy for a while last night after a big drink out of the tap. Nothing serious. A dose of pepto took care of it.
 

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i was late on the boil water notice myself. my parents received a phone call. the caller id, they told me, read as "emergency". i didn't get that call. on today's local morning news i heard that the possibility existed for bacteria to enter the water supply through some of these busted water mains. that was the first time i heard any explanation for the boil water notice, i guess it makes sense.
 

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It's called winter people suck it up. It reaches 115 here in the summer, and -20 in the winter, we have tornadoes, hail storms, and I am prepared for them all. I guess some of us need to start to prep for those times when you can't wear flip flops every day.:eek:
 

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This was just a freak storm. Normally we rarely even dip into the teens here. But about every 8-10 years we have an ice storm and get down pretty chilly. This one set new records though. Luckily it didn't last long and most local damage was relatively minor. It gives me more empathy to those who live in harsher winter climates though.
I have a few pictures of the snow out on the catus along with snow out in the desert and when i show them the pictures they go you mean it get cold out there in the desert and it snows there ..

That why i posted the comment about the cold..
 
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