Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Close calls with brutal weather

It has been untypically cold in Oklahoma over the last couple of weeks.  Oklahomans are used to some severe weather in all seasons - hot summers (sometimes humid, sometimes dry) with temperatures above 100 F, and cold winters with temperatures in the teens and snow and ice on the ground.  But it is pretty rare for us to get into the single digits or near zero.  I live in USDA hardiness zone 7a, which is a winter minimum temperature between 0 and 5 Fahrenheit.  However, it has been a good 6-8 years since we have dipped near 10F.  This year we have been hit pretty hard.

We have actually reached 0 F on two different nights over the last 2 weeks.  And we have gotten some real snow on the ground, in three different events!  Last week the all-time low temperature record for the state was broken when a temperature of -31 Fahrenheit was recorded in Nowata, Oklahoma.  At the same time, it was +16 Fahrenheit at the North Pole.  That's just hard for me to believe.  The previous low was -27, set in Watts, Oklahoma in 1930.

My electric space heaters have done remarkably well keeping the temperature in the 60s in the greenhouse.  But the electric load has been trying for a single circuit.  Last week I woke up and checked the greenhouse temperature from the warm confines inside the house to find that it had dropped to 38 overnight in my greenhouse!  Prior to this my greenhouse had only gotten into the low 50s on one or two occasions.  I ran out to the greenhouse to find that the heaters were not on and would not respond to me hitting the power buttons.  The fuse had finally given out and the heaters had been off all night long, letting the temperature plummet (actually, it was more of a gradual decline) to a temperature that I can only imagine my plants didn't like.

I found that having two space heaters plugged into the same outlet was not wise and since I didn't have them plugged into a modern surge protector, they were drawing a higher load than the wiring could really  provide.  Thankfully our old screw-in fuse when out.  I replaced the fuse and plugged my main heater into a modern surge protected power strip, which will flip off when a large load is being drawn.  For the following nights, I ran an extension cord from another outlet out to the greenhouse to supply power to my extra heater.

It looks like I might have come through this debacle with only minor damage to some of my plants.  I don't think I lost any plants outright, but some have lost leaves and will have to slowly recoup.


  1. Oh, so glad you did not lose any plants.It is nice that you are able to monitor the temperature during the harsh weather. Just hope that it is gone and spring is around the corner.

  2. I hear you buddy. Sometimes fighting nature is hard and it wins. Everyone is pulling through here as well, a few dead leaves nothing more. Later!