Weather Feed

Winter can be gorgeous. It also can be disastrous, as all us Texans more accustomed to heat waves than winter storms found out last week. (Photo by Kay Bell) It's been near 80 degrees for the last two days in my part of Texas. This time last week, we were in the teens during the day, after single-digit overnight low — and record-breaking — cold temperatures. This surprisingly strong cold snap left a lot of damage. People lost power and water. Freezing pipes in freezing houses burst. Food was spoiled. Many are looking at weeks to even get repairs underway... Read more →


Much of Texas got record snowfall on Feb. 14-15, with around 6 inches covering our backyard. Thank goodness for some much welcome sunshine today, but it's still below freezing, meaning our heater is working overtime! (Photo by Kay Bell) We have sunshine here in Central Texas! Still, the high temperature today in the greater Austin area is not expected to break the freezing mark. That means my home's heater is still in overdrive. And that means my next bill is going to be ginormous. The only consolation, is that I can count part of that heating bill as a home... Read more →


Happy Valentine's Day! This Feb. 14, the hubby and I are snuggling, but today it's mainly to keep warm. Like much of North America, we're dealing with a serious arctic blast. I hope you and your sweetie are having a good Valentine's Day. And I hope you got exactly what you wanted from your love. In many cases, it might be something simple or homemade. Not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering financial ramifications mean that spending on Valentine's Day gifts this year has dropped. Those celebrating plan to spend an average $164.76, down $32 on average per person,... Read more →


Soldiers from the Louisiana National Guard responding after Hurricane Laura destroyed much of Lake Charles. The Capital One Tower was among the properties severely damaged by the category 4 storm. (Photo by Josiah Pugh via Flickr/Wikipedia Commons) Hurricane season 2020 is almost over and Nov. 30 cannot get here soon enough for Louisiana residents. The Pelican State was pummeled by five storms this record-breaking year, including a category 4 which produced the strongest cyclonic wind speeds ever recorded in the state. So state officials are giving folks who are still trying to rebuild in the storms' wakes a chance to... Read more →


Pixabay Ah, fall. Summer's scorching temperatures start to moderate. School's back in session. College and football players are back on the fields. Sorry. I seem to have drifted off into memories of autumn 2019. This is 2020. Scientists say worldwide, this year could rank near the top in torrid temps. Schools across the United States are struggling with how to keep students and staff safe during the coronavirus pandemic. And as for sports, the National Football League is going to give it a try, but some major college conferences have already called off theirs seasons. One thing, though, hasn't changed.... Read more →


Tropical Storm Cristobal made landfall Sunday evening in Louisiana. Even though it quickly weakened to a tropical depression, it still is dumping copious amounts of rain across the Pelican State. The potential for flooding was part of the reason that the White House on Sunday, June 7, issued a federal disaster declaration for Louisiana. That decision allows the federal government to help pick up some of the state's disaster response costs. It also will give those who sustained Cristobal-related damages a chance to claim those losses on their taxes. Major disasters only need apply: Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs... Read more →


June has arrived. But the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on our lives, including our tax lives, mean that in 2020 we likely won't be able to enjoy our usual summertime living is easy lifestyles. (Photo courtesy City of Clearwater, Florida) Hello weird, scary, frustrating June 2020. We're sort of glad you're here, even though the coronavirus means many of us aren't going to be taking a summer vacation and many more of us will still be messing with 2019 taxes until mid-July. Yep, as everyone knows by now, COVID-19 precautions by the Internal Revenue Service have pushed this year's... Read more →


It's the last weekend of May. You know what that means. Hurricane season is about to officially start. Of course, Mother Nature doesn't follow the calendars of mere humans. She does what she wants when she wants. And so far this late spring, early summer of 2020, she's thrown a couple of tropical tantrums. We've already had two named tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha. Arthur threatened the North Carolina coast before heading out to sea. Bertha is now washing out as a tropical depression, dropping heavy rain over South Carolina. Plan ahead for storms: But the Atlantic hurricane season, which... Read more →


If there's anything positive in this COVID-19 pandemic (yeah, I'm grasping), it's that folks have stocked up on necessities. That's good for those who live in potential hurricane targets. And it's especially fortuitous since, for sixth consecutive year, the Atlantic tropical storm season has started early. A tropical depression formed on Saturday, May 16, afternoon. By nightfall, it had strengthened enough to become Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of 2020. The hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 each year, but as we all know, Mother Nature often ignores us humans. The best we can... Read more →


April is winding down. That means severe, and some deadly, spring storms are erupting all over the United States. And in just more than a month, hurricane season will officially start. A couple of states — Alabama and Texas — earlier this year offered their residents a sales tax holiday so they could save some money as they stocked up on emergency supplies. But even if you have to pay tax on your bottled water and canned food and batteries, start gathering your supplies now. Also take a pre-disaster inventory of your property. A full, accurate list of your belongings... Read more →


Photo: Nashville Metro Police Department via Twitter Spring storm season came early and with a vengeance to the southern United States last night. At least 25 people lost their lives when a tornado roared through the Nashville area early today. Tornado sirens started sounding around 2 a.m. Central Time on March 3. By the time the twister completed its rampage, it had become Tennessee's second-deadliest March tornado. More than 150 were injured. Residents and officials are still assessing property damage. Volunteer State residents are living their home's motto today, as they not only work through their losses, but also helping... Read more →


CNN forecast screenshot I thought I'd have a couple of months before I had to worry, or post, about severe weather, but Mother Nature today is in a proper snit. The official National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has for days been talking about upper level lows and Gulf of Mexico air masses. I prefer the description by Texas songwriter/singer Terry Allen in The Lubbock Tornado (I Don't Know): "But when a high-pressure zone hits a low, somethin' gotta give, yeah somethin' gotta go." That's why folks from down here in Central Texas to the Midwest, upper and otherwise, to... Read more →


Congress played Santa this week, averting a government shutdown and approving a wide variety of anticipated tax breaks. Merry Christmas U.S. taxpayers. H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, is now law. In a surprise move earlier this month, House and Senate negotiators cobbled together a massive bill that not only, as the name indicates, assures that the federal government stays open, but which also included some long-awaited (at least by those who will benefit) expired tax provisions. In addition, lawmakers corrected — and by corrected, I mean repealed — some obvious — and by obvious, I mean universally... Read more →


These West Texas cattle don't appear worried about much. Their owners, however, have a lot of concerns, including severe weather that could hurt their agribusiness operation. In the case of drought, they might get some tax relief. (Photo by Kay Bell) "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it," observed Hartford Courant editor Charles Dudley Warner back in the late 1800s. More than a century later, that meteorological quip is still applicable. Long-time readers know I'm one of the guilty weather complainers. Heck, I do it so much that it's earned its own category on the ol'... Read more →


Today I'd rather be in the Midwest, say northern Ohio or Michigan, at least as far as the weather. Yeah, it's chillier than I like, but at least it's not so dang windy. As the screen shot above of the live wind map wind shows, the rest of the country is dealing with some strong gusts. Locally, we're at around 13 mile per hour sustained wind, with gusts up to 30 mph. Where wind pays: You'd think I'd be used to the wind. I did, after all, grow up in West Texas, where the wide-open spaces are perfect to spin... Read more →


Nestor, show in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite image above as it gathered steam yesterday (Oct. 18) in the Gulf of Mexico, moved today closer to the Florida panhandle. The good news is that Nestor is now a post-tropical storm. That designation change, however, doesn't mean this 14th named storm of the 2019 hurricane season is harmless. As Nestor moves inland across the southeastern United States, it is projected to bring heavy rains and associated flooding, coastal surges and severe thunderstorms, some with tornadoes. Meanwhile, in the northeastern part of the county, a large bomb cyclone wreaked havoc.... Read more →


Flooding along I-10 in the Port Arthur, Texas, area due to Tropical Storm Imelda's excessive rain. (Photo by Jefferson County Sheriff's Office via Twitter) Coastal and East Texas is flashing back to 2017. That year, major Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston. Many parts of Space City and the Gulf Coast are still recovering. Now it's Tropical Storm Imelda, which now has devolved into a depression, that has dropped way too much rain on the area. At least five people have died and the southeastern part of the Lone Star State is facing record-setting flooding. Google Maps Using nest egg to make... Read more →


Some of the devastation facing Bahamians following Hurricane Dorian's direct hit on the islands. (Photo courtesy Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance via Facebook) Hurricane Dorian is still traveling up North America's eastern coastline, but it did its most damage on Sept. 2 when it made landfall as a Category 5 storm in The Bahamas. More than 40 people were killed and that toll is expected to rise. At least 70,000 people are homeless. Early estimates of property damage are around $7 billion in losses. Concerned people are looking for ways to help the residents of the island nation. This... Read more →


September usually is a welcome month. The summer's hot temperatures finally moderate as the official start of fall nears. Parents and children get their routines back as school is in session. Then there's the reason why usually comes into play as far as September's arrival. It's traditionally the most active month of the annual hurricane season. Nobody wants to see that. We'll have to wait a few more weeks to see if that holds for 2019, but September's start is ominous. Hurricane Dorian, which already has smashed all sorts of intensity records, is stalking Florida as I type. If forecasts... Read more →


You've secured your house. You've got your go-bag ready if you have to evacuate. You've taken all the other steps to get ready for an impending natural disaster. Or have you? Don't forget about your pets. During recent floods in the Midwest, Reuters reported that hundreds of pets were lost or imperiled by floodwaters. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, an estimated 15,000 animals had to be rescued, according to CNN. "It's a tragedy we've seen too many times: pets stuck in shelters, or worse, because their owners had no place to take them, or homeowners who feel trapped in a... Read more →