Over the weekend, with Hurricane Katia pushing in from the Caribbean and front pushing down from Oklahoma, temperatures around Austin cooled somewhat, or at least to less than triple digits. But the lack of rain since April and incoming rush of wind, the brush and forest fires that have been chewing up central Texas since last December finally made a dedicated appearance in Austin.
Happy Labor Day.
Now Austin is literally surrounded by fire. Steiner Ranch to the west, Bastrop to the east, Pflugerville to the north-east, Leander to the north-west, Spicewood to the north, and newly sighted blazes on and on...
Governor Perry swung by our neck of the woods to view the already and soon to be charred remains. Back in April, the Governor requested all Texans to pray for rain. Well it hasn't rained since April, and now the Governor is complaining about the small and slow federal response.
For all the pictures on the news and rumors of friends' homes being under threat, it's completely different when you're rolling down the road on your bike and the horizon looks similar to the mushroom cloud from an nuclear weapon. I went to spend some quality time on a stretch of interval-friendly country highway, which is near the town of Bastrop on fire, and the landscape is basically flat and tree-less, providing excellent views of the town of Bastrop on fire. The stiff wind was smearing the smoke down the east side of the city as far as the eye could see. It's a somewhat different take on an interval workout when it looks like World War III is underway right.over.there.
The drive home heads straight west, toward the Steiner Ranch fire, and then turns south, so that from a highway over-pass, I could easily see a streak of smoke on my right and streak of smoke on my left, each reaching to the southern horizon.
For the number people among us, since last December, drought-related fires in Texas have burned 3.5 million acres. That's an area the size of Connecticut. I guess everything is bigger in Texas.