Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Winter comes to Austin for the second time in 2021

with 50 comments

First came the January 10th snowfall, which you’ve seen in a bunch of pictures. On February 11th we got hit with an ice storm, and the temperature has only briefly been above freezing since then. On the 12th I spent a couple of hours in Great Hills Park photographing ice-coated plants, including a possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua), many of whose little fruits had icicles hanging from them.

I intended to post this yesterday but the electricity in my neighborhood kept going out on the 12th, including when I’d almost finished editing this picture but hadn’t yet saved it, so I shut my computer off as a precaution. In any case, since today is Valentine’s Day, you can downplay the ice and let the red symbolize romance.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 14, 2021 at 4:25 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

50 Responses

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  1. Awesome Steve 🙂


    February 14, 2021 at 4:39 AM

    • The ice was pretty. Sitting here by candlelight because we don’t have electricity for the 10th or 12th or 15th time in the last three days isn’t so pretty.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 4:50 AM

  2. Beautiful! Not having electricity is bad at any time of year, but so much worse in a cold spell. I hope you’re managing to stay warm!


    February 14, 2021 at 5:05 AM

    • Each time the power goes out, we bundle up in layers of clothing because we don’t know how long the electricity will stay off. I’ve lived in Austin since 1976 and I don’t remember ever before getting four days in a row where the temperature was below freezing. I had just turned my computer on this morning when a few minutes later the power went out again. I’m answering on my phone, which I don’t normally do but that’s the only thing that keeps me connected to the outside world at the moment.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 5:20 AM

  3. Beautiful photo. Full spring here already! I wish we had a longer winter.

    Alessandra Chaves

    February 14, 2021 at 7:53 AM

    • Happy spring to you. In central Texas we had 80° the week before last and we’d normally have wildflowers like anemones and wild garlic beginning to appear now. This sustained spell of below-freezing weather is unprecedented in my 44 years here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 10:51 AM

  4. We live out in Marathon, TX, in the Big Bend region. Our power comes over a pass from Alpine, and every time we get snow, freezing fog, high winds, thunderstorms…sometimes just the PREDICTION of snow…the power goes down. We have an all-electric home, so we installed a wood-burning stove for heat and have two small generators to keep the fridge and one light going, plus a number of solar-powered lights for the dark.

    Oh, by the way, our cell tower also goes out when we lose power, so it’s back to Little House on the Prairie experience for hours, or often days, at a time.

    Point being, I sympathize and empathize with your frustration. At least it’s Valentine’s Day, so I can find other diversions with my honey if we go dark today!


    February 14, 2021 at 7:53 AM

    • You’re funny (but you’re experience won’t seem funny to you) in saying that even the prediction of snow can cause your electricity to go out. Seems like the wood-burning stove, two generators, and several solar-powered lights are a wise precaution. Is it too expensive for the power company to bury the line from Alpine to Marathon?

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 10:57 AM

      • We’re not that high a priority. They buried a fiber-optic cable along that route for law enforcement (Border Patrol) communications, but if they were ever going to bury the power lines, that would have been the time to do it. No such luck.


        February 15, 2021 at 8:03 AM

  5. That is not good news. We are next.

    automatic gardener

    February 14, 2021 at 7:54 AM

    • Definitely not good news. The weather forecast this morning shows almost the whole state under a severe winter weather warning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 10:59 AM

  6. Lovely winter picture! Hope your power comes back and stays on soon!

    Ann Mackay

    February 14, 2021 at 8:51 AM

    • It already went off once this morning; it came back about an hour later. It’s like we’re living in a weather war.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 11:01 AM

      • ‘A weather war’ is a great phrase! (But I’m sure it doesn’t feel so great. Hope it gets better soon.)

        Ann Mackay

        February 14, 2021 at 1:12 PM

      • I agree totally.


        February 15, 2021 at 12:49 AM

  7. Thank you for the lovely Valentine’s greeting, Steve! I know how much you hate the cold, so I hope you will soon enjoy milder weather again. Greetings out of the deep freeze of BC! Wednesday’s Photos will demonstrate how chilly it is up here in the north.

    Peter Klopp

    February 14, 2021 at 9:01 AM

    • Once again in 2021 I’m able to show pictures that look as if they were taken in your part of the world, even if on a smaller scale. We’ll compare on Wednesday.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 11:03 AM

  8. I see them dripping love and romance. Stay warm!


    February 14, 2021 at 9:11 AM

  9. That’s a beautiful image. It’s somewhat ironic that it feels so warm, though created by such cold. All that ice surely must be a frustration to hungry birds looking for something to eat.

    You’re getting it worse that we are, but there are a lot of people here who are on edge: particularly the fishermen. During the 1983 freeze, hundreds of thousands of fish died. Here’s a snippet from a Houston Chronicle article:

    “It began when a pool of Arctic air pushed over the Texas coast the afternoon of Dec. 21, plunging air temperature from the 50s to the 30s in little more than an hour. In Houston, the temperature dropped below freezing the next afternoon and remained there for five days, setting a record for longest period of below-freezing temperatures in the city. Houston’s temperature fell below freezing for 10 consecutive nights, bottoming out at 13 degrees on Christmas morning.

    It was equally frigid on the coast – 15 degrees in Palacios, 14 degrees in Galveston and Corpus Christi, 19 degrees in McAllen. Air temperature remained below freezing for 77 hours in Port Arthur. Saltwater froze; on Trinity Bay, a sheet of ice 4 inches thick extended almost 500 yards from shore, and a similarly thick layer created a 100-yard band around the edges of the Upper Laguna Madre.”



    February 14, 2021 at 9:36 AM

    • It’s looking like your “amazing” may get replicated, in the center of the state if not where you are. In my 44 years here, Austin has never had four or five or six days in a row when the temperature never rose above freezing. The ice in the trees from the storm three days ago hasn’t melted, and if we get more precipitation then more tree limbs will break off, cutting more power lines and leaving people without electricity (and therefore heating) when the temperature may well be in the teens. It’s scary.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 11:22 AM

      • It is scary. A friend in Michigan could have died a couple of years ago when she was without power in sub-zero conditions for days on end. She finally figured out that hypothermia was affecting her mental processes, and called for help. Down here, people who don’t realize how serious cold is can get themselves in trouble even if they’re not on the roads.


        February 14, 2021 at 11:27 AM

  10. I’ve seen the ice here some years. Makes for beautiful photos and treacherous driving and walking.

    Lavinia Ross

    February 14, 2021 at 11:09 AM

    • Treacherous driving indeed. Authorities here are urging everyone to stay off the roads unless it’s really necessary. The forecast calls for more precipitation tonight or tomorrow, alas, with temperatures in the teens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 11:24 AM

  11. It’s been a cold few days and is only getting colder. Boo! Beautiful shot!


    February 14, 2021 at 12:26 PM

    • Yes, colder ahead. This will be the most severe winter spell I’ve encountered in Austin since moving here in 1976. At least I can hope for some more ice pictures as the edges of local creeks freeze.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 12:30 PM

  12. That image is a nice distraction from the whiteout I’m seeing through the window! While grumbling around about the weather here, I think perhaps it’s worse for you who are further south simply because deep freezes like this rarely happen, if at all. Oklahoma is breaking record low temps with single digits and below zero, but the wind is what takes it a level worse. At least here, water lines and most homes have ample insulation. Our propane fella didn’t make it out Friday or Saturday, so we’re just hoping we have enough to get us through the next 3 days. I’m concerned about our chickens. The deer, on the other hand, are doing well. I’ve seen Penelope jump straight up and gambol off into the woods, frisky as she can be!


    February 14, 2021 at 1:14 PM

    • Whiteout: oh, it may look pretty but it creates problems, and apparently it’s pushing south. You’re right about houses here not being as well prepared for cold as places further north. I hope you can economize on your propane, just in case.

      Deer evolved to deal with this kind of winter, and chickens did too when they were wild, but it seems many centuries of domestication has weakened their natural defenses.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 4:21 PM

  13. And to Fredericksburg with – unfortunately – these results: https://wp.me/p4uPk8-3jQ
    Stay warm, my friend.


    February 14, 2021 at 4:06 PM

    • The temperature has dropped to 22° here now and is predicted to go down into the teens tonight. In all my years in Austin I’ve never experienced such a prolonged freeze.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 4:36 PM

  14. Beautiful. Wall material. For sure.

    Michael Scandling

    February 14, 2021 at 4:22 PM

    • We’re paying a heavy price for that wall material, alas.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 4:36 PM

      • You and much of the country. I’m reading the news reports with trepidation. We have two relatives in New Jersey.

        Michael Scandling

        February 14, 2021 at 4:37 PM

        • Most of my relatives live in the New York City area, including a niece across the Hudson in New Jersey. They’re generally better prepared for winter up there than we are down here.

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 14, 2021 at 4:39 PM

  15. Ice can create such beautiful imagery, but ice storms aren’t something I’d wish on anyone. But I’m glad you’re making something nice out of it all.

    Todd Henson

    February 14, 2021 at 6:01 PM

    • We’ve never seen anything like this sustained cold here. This evening we got an inch or so of snow. The temperature has dropped into the teens. We’ll see If tomorrow offers more chances for pictures.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 14, 2021 at 10:03 PM

  16. […] farther back of the ice-covered possumhaw tree (Ilex decidua) in Great Hills Park that provided the close-up you saw last time. Below is a lichen-covered oak twig that ice added its own kind of coating […]

  17. This lovely image of winter’s icy coating belies the accompanying misery you are experiencing. We’re receiving your freezing rain this morning. I hope there hasn’t been too much damage.

    Steve Gingold

    February 16, 2021 at 2:45 AM

    • This past week has been pretty miserable. We seem to be slowly approaching the end of the misery, but temperatures aren’t predicted to finally get above freezing till tomorrow, and not to stay above freezing till Saturday. In the meantime, I’ve pushed myself to slog out and take pictures several times.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 18, 2021 at 4:08 PM

  18. Berry, berry n’ice.


    February 16, 2021 at 3:38 AM

  19. Great natural composition and close-up.


    February 19, 2021 at 10:28 AM

  20. Beautiful! The electricity doesn’t sound good ..


    February 19, 2021 at 3:00 PM

    • It was a miserable week, practically speaking (more details in the next post). Photographically, though, it was delicious.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 19, 2021 at 3:32 PM

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