Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Las Cruces Report: Early February and a Deep Freeze

Newspaper photo: Ice from somebody's broken pipe (Robin Zielinski/Sun-News)

The weather is the big news here, just as it has been nearly everywhere else this winter. According to the Sun-News, the temps were below freezing for over 91 hours straight over the last few days; that's some kind of new record. Here in the North Valley, we got down to -1 F.  At the 7MSN Ranch nearer to the center of the state and at a higher elevation, temps got as far down as 27 below!

Here in New Mexico's southern desert, we aren't prepared for this kind of weather, EVER. Our hot water heater is located outside on the north side of the house, and is housed in a small shed-like jog. You can imagine how well that works out in sustained, near-zero weather.

Yep, our pipes froze and we're pretty embarrassed. As New Englanders, we know how to prevent this kind of thing, but we were too snug and warm in bed to get up and deal with the issue. In our own defense, pipes have been bursting all over. The whole darned city is a mess.

We babysat our frozen pipes until things thawed out yesterday and the open faucets began to run free. Then there was that ominous sound of running water inside the wall and Beez took off for the main water shut off. That was frozen, and when I saw him heading out the door with a sledge hammer, I headed him off and called the water company before things got even worse. They managed to fit us into their gigantic list of people with emergencies and were outside within minutes because one of the water guys happened to be passing by.

So, here we are in the sunny Southwest with no running water. It's a clear day, and the temps will be above freezing--we'll even see 60 on Tuesday. We're not dealing with mountains of snow like our old neighbors back east. We have electricity and heat (more about that in the next post), so we can't really complain. But no water equals no bathroom facilities, which means we probably won't be hosting our first annual Super Bowl party tomorrow.

The plumber, who has always been on speed dial since we moved here, is so backed up that we have no idea when he'll be here to repair the pipes. There are stories of weary plumbers working almost around the clock.

Will our walls have to be ripped out? Will the repairs take up the whole carpet replacement budget? We were so hoping to get the next phase of the floor project done by spring. It looks like that is a dream deferred...


becky said...

Oh, shoot, Clair.... sorry to hear about those pipes. Yes, I think the temps have set some records. We had a low of 15 below (-22 with the wind chill) on thursday.
On wednesday, I believe our hi was 4! But yesterday, a balmy hi of 35!! Our laundry pipes froze at the complex I live at ( I knew I should have done laundry earlier in the week!) I have a friend in Taos- they've shut down all the Gas there... so no heat except space heaters. In attempts to save gas in Santa Fe, they closed the schools, state buildings, even the National Lab @ Los Alamos on friday! The misfortune of the the person w/ the broken pipe does make for a great photo, though. Well, enjoy your weekend... hope things work out on those pipes of yours!

the7msn said...

I feared you were dealing with something like this when there were no posts for the past few days. We're all going to remember this storm for many years to come. Hope your plumber gets to you soon.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Sorry about your pipes. I hope you get them repaired without too much cost and upset.

I lived in Houston for several years and had lots of frozen pipes. The minimum construction standards in more temperate areas needs to be raised a little.

JC said...

So sorry to hear that you are frozen ... we're just rainy.

Deb from WhatsInMyAttic said...

That is some photo! I had no idea you got that kind of weather...EVER! Frozen pipes are no fun to deal with...we had a little go-'round with that when we lived in Centreville, VA... That little repair project sucked up more money than I want to remember, but partly because LT had set out to do his own "fix" to our problem. Probably a good thing you stopped Beez with the big hammer!

Sara Chapman said...

Oh, my goodness. I am so sorry to hear about broken pipes. Makes Seattle's endless gray weather not so bad. I did read of a zoo in Mexico where the heater failed and dozens of animals died in this cold weather. Such a terrible thing. Hope all is well soon for you.