It is the top topic of conversation on social media among my fellow Texans. As I got ready to walk out my front door this morning, I looked around for my umbrella and couldn’t find it. We’ve been without rain for so long I don’t know where the thing is anymore.
We've had a pretty good dousing in the last 36 hours. I'd forgotten what rain smelled like until today.
Why is this such a big deal? Well, when it rains, we Texans lose our minds.
Drought seems to be the perpetual state of our state these last thirty years and in those three decades we’ve gotten pretty weird about rain. We’ve been weather-crazy since we were a sovereign nation anyway, but this is a little different than in years past. When it rains, you might not want to leave your house for about 24-48 hours. People on the road will drive like maniacs. Too slow or too fast, they’re coming down the road like drivers’ licenses were on sale at the drug store.
If you don’t have to be anywhere like work or school, stay off the road when it rains for that first time in months.
All that oil and dirt and unidentified “goo” on our streets and highways will combine in the rain to form a slick film and hydroplaning will not be the only rain-associated road danger. In that first 24 hours of rain, it will be like driving on black ice. Give yourself plenty of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you on the road.
Be aware of the jughead in the truck who thinks because he owns a F350-something, he is invincible and immortal.
He is not.
Don’t be the one who convinces him of this.
If he’s on your tail and you can get out of his way, do so and let him get on his path to meeting a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper who will be more than happy to show Bubba the light of wisdom. Go on and let him spin helplessly out of control on the rain-slicked highway so he can get better acquainted with his auto insurance policy at a later date. Bubba might make you madder than a wet cat with the tacky way he behaves on the road, but he won’t be taking you with him.
On the other end of the idiotic driving spectrum is “Timid Tilly.” This driver will be doing 20 mph in a 40 mph zone thinking that he or she is doing us all a favor by toodling along at the speed of smell when, in fact, our “friend” is setting you up for an “epic driving fail.” We might expect someone to drop her or his speed to 5-10 miles below the speed limit, but this person is going half the speed limit and that lack of anticipation probably is the greatest cause of a wreck in this situation.
Of all the times to “drive Texas friendly,” a light, steady rain is that time to do it and the onus might well be on you alone to make it happen.
I don’t want to discourage you about Texans and our ability to operate vehicles and heavy machinery in the rain, but I do want to caution you about us.
When the weather forecasters predict wild weather, there’s also generally a mass exodus of staple foods and goods from grocery stores. Since we’ve been without rain for so long, I would not be surprised if folks didn’t descend on our area food markets and buy up all the bread, milk and canned goods. The last few times we had significant rain, we had flooding to go along with it and we all remember what that was like.
I’m not telling you to run to the store and start hoarding canned corn and ammo, but I am telling you that there will be people like this out and about. Be prepared for a real show of weird behavior when water starts falling from the sky.
The first few days of rain generally aren't significant. Initially, we get squirted just enough to be teased but not enough to make a difference in our lawns. I doubt we will see any H2O worth writing about until possibly October. But three drops will fall and Texans will behave like Viking berserkers in the produce section. The store parking lots will look like that scene in “Frankenstein” when the villagers show up with torches and pitchforks, except there won’t be any torches since there’s a burn ban on across the state.
Personally, I don’t care how nutty folks get about the rain. I’m just glad to see the stuff again.
So buckle up when you drive and make sure you got to the dairy section at the store early on this week. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel and your insurance card where you can find it. And don’t worry; the rain (if it comes) will pass long before your lawn gets enough precipitation to be green again.