Having been a Yankee for most of my life, I’ll be the first one to say that winters in Texas are amazing, usually. Over the last 5 years of living in the Lone Star State, I’ve experienced such joys as short sleeves in January and springtime weather coming on before Easter. Given that this winter has been colder than most, I thought I’d bring some northern winter wisdom to this unusually chilly Texas winter.
I remember my first few days in Texas: it was January of 2010 and the massive winter storm that hit the East Coast had dropped 9” of snow on Dallas-Fort Worth. What was, in effect, blizzard conditions here in the Metroplex had little effect on my daily outlook, so I went about my usual snowy weather routine while my neighbors (and many drivers) looked as though they were facing the “End of Days.”
Ultimately, the key to navigating a cold and inhospitable winter is preparation. Here are a 6 simple steps you can take to make life easier when cold, icy, and/or snowy weather threatens to ruin your day.
1) When you know that there is a chance for freezing rain, cover your car. You can opt for the cheap and easy tarp, purchase a nice car cover, or you can even order a custom fitted window cover designed for your car. This simple trick can make life easier at 7am when your neighbors are outside in the freezing cold, scraping their windows.
2) North Texas is known more for ice than snow, so keep a bag (or two) of kitty litter in your trunk. Kitty litter is a common northern trick for gaining traction in slick spots, especially when you find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
3) Gain some weight. No, not you – your car. After a wet snowfall, it’s a common trick up north to leave a snow pack on the top of our cars or to pack weights and other heavy objects in the trunk when driving around town. When it comes to slick winter roads, weight can add some much needed extra traction. If you have the chance to use the snow pack trick, just remember to remove it before hitting the highway!
4) Keep emergency supplies in your car. Undoubtedly you’ve seen the news reports this year of cars stranded in bad weather, and from first-hand experience, it’s miserable. When my grandfather was teaching me to drive, he made a point to tell me to keep a bag with spare warm clothes and other supplies in case I was caught out in winter weather, and his advice paid off. Make sure to keep some spare water, warm clothes, some snacks, and a few flares in a bag in the back. It’s also a good idea to keep a cell phone battery booster handy as well.
5) Preparedness is also a good idea for the house. While a short power outage can become an adventure in urban camping, sustained power outages can make things significantly more difficult. As with any time of year, make sure that you have flashlights, spare medications, daily necessities, emergency supplies, extra food and water, and a plan for leaving if it gets dangerously cold for you and your pets. Check in on your neighbors, especially the elderly and those with significant disabilities, to see if they require assistance.
6) As many southern trees are not well adapted for heavy snowfall, clean snow off of branches. It’s not at all uncommon to see the hordes of broom-wielding Yankees outside as the snow piles up, knocking the white stuff off of the branches. I thought that this was a common knowledge practice, but when the snow hit upon my move to Fort Worth, I was the only one out with a broom, and one of the only ones with no damage to trees and shrubs on our block.
Let’s face it, winter weather can be downright nasty at times – even in Texas. Snow, ice, and freezing rain can put a damper on your plans, but they don’t have to ruin your day. With a little planning and preparation, you can see your way through almost anything a Texas winter can throw at you!