By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
What a difference a year makes!
Last year’s New Year’s Eve was cool, but rather comfortable. The mostly pleasant weather was followed by unseasonably warm days — more than a few of which saw temperatures climb well into the 90s. This time around, New Year’s Eve was marked by a gritty, rainy cold that dampened desires to remain outdoors, if not the general celebratory spirit.
We’re a couple of days past the last echoes of Auld Lang Syne now, but the cold weather lingers. With it has brought another batch of cold stunned turtles and the Sea Turtle Inc. staff and volunteers who rescue them. Too, the weather caused a rare decree to be issued by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department: the temporary closure of several saltwater fishing spots up and down the coast. Why? Well, to help protect the game fish which have become vulnerably sluggish by the sudden coldness of the shallow bay waters they call home.
Luckily, however, this cold spell didn’t seem to affect our local brown pelicans like northers’ past. The winds weren’t bad enough, thankfully, to strand the birds along Highway 48 like they did just a month ago. But local officials kept an eye out, just in case.
And while the mercury still hovers in the mid-30s and 40s, taunting us with the potential of a light freeze, at least now things have dried off. Gone is the omnipresent, unavoidable, clinging mist and drizzle that had hung over the Rio Grande Valley since the holiday weekend. On Wednesday, the thick steel grey blanket of clouds finally parted and the sky shone with the pale golden light of the wintry sun. Only the barest hint of clouds remained high up in the atmosphere — wispy tendrils which clung to the outer fringes of the dome of sky above.
That’s probably my favorite kind of cold. Cool enough to need a sweater and good shoes to stay warm, but not too cold to venture outside to enjoy the sunshine. It’s one of the best times to go for a hike here in the Valley, too, since spending time outdoors most any other time of the year means you have to worry about heat exhaustion.
But, by this weekend, things should be a lot more pleasant again. Saturday and Sunday should see temperatures rise to the high-60s and low-70s. That’s good news for our wildlife friends and for us.
So, be sure to take advantage of the good weather by getting outside. There’s plenty to do at various nearby green and wild spaces. The Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge and Resaca de la Palma State Park both offer a host of guided nature and bird walks. You can explore on foot or sit back and relax from the comfort of a tram. On South Padre Island, visit the Birding and Nature Center for guided bird tours along their expansive network of boardwalks.
With weather like this, it’s easy to get started on those New Year’s fitness resolutions.
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