It’s that time of year!

The cacti out the casita window.

Today we had a winter weather warning. There may be a foot of snow above the 3,500 foot level. Unfortunately, we’re at 3,000 elevation so I think it’ll miss us. I have to check with our friends one mile up the hill to find out if they get snow.

When we moved to Arizona this week two years ago, we were surprised to see styrofoam cups on cactus. We asked people about it while we were out on walks. We learned that cactus like warm weather (duh). They die from the top if it gets below freezing. The styrofoam cups offer a bit of protection and insulation. Some people get creative and put Santa hats on them, or wrap them completely in fabric.

It’s supposed to freeze at night this week, so it was time to get out our cups and protect our cacti. At least the styrofoam cups are reusable!

Last week we were out walking and met a couple we’ve seen, but never stopped to talk to. The husband warned us of the cold weather and asked if we have heat tape.

“Heat tape?” my husband and I both asked. We’d never heard of it living in Palm Springs for the past 37 years.

The wife got out her iphone and began to show us photos from a storm they had a few years before we moved here. They got feet — as in multiple feet of snow. Their neighbors’ water pipes burst and made eery patterns as water froze in the air. This couple is originally from Minnesota so they were prepared with their heat tape.

We got instructions to go to Ace Hardware, buy heat tape and wrap our water pipes. I’m urging my husband to do that now, before nightfall!

coyote on wall in the snow
A coyote jumped on our wall during the snow we got two years ago.

Have you heard of heat tape before? What do you do to prepare for cold weather? Or do you ever have any freezes of snow?

38 thoughts on “It’s that time of year!

  1. I never knew that about cacti and the styrofoam cups. Need to share that with my parent’s, my mom loves flowers and cacti. Love the Santa cap idea.
    I know my husband wrapped our pipes with insulation when we lived in Indiana, but he doesn’t now.

  2. I had no idea cactus died from the top down. We have cactus here – they produce prickly pears – if you are brave. I’m at 6,700′ but we dont get much snow. I can expect periods of subzero weather. I have a veggie garden, when the first frost comes I cover the plants, and put strings of christmas lights (not the LED ones) under the cover to generate heat. My strawberry plants weather the winter fine. I wrap the outside spigots and we have to blow out the lawn irrigation pipes. Inside I don’t do anything. The wife is going thru the Change, we always a window cracked, even if it is -5. I just bury myself deepered under the blankets.

      • OMG, ever since I adopted the German hugelkultur garden method the garden has exploded. Squash, tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers…. I keep hail netting over it. This protects it from the sun – the sun is super intense.

      • That sounds interesting. I grew up in western Washington state and everybody had gardens. Everything grew there. When I moved to Palm Springs and now Arizona, I haven’t gotten the hang of it.

      • Only picked it up since I moved to CO. Before this we lived in Maryland right on the bay. Soil was great but the bugs, heat, humidity – nope, not happening.

  3. Even Tampa Bay is feeling the effects of this latest Winter Blast. I had to walk the dog early this morning when it was 64 degrees. It has warmed up to a still chilly 76. My lawn guy today actually had to wear a T with sleeves!

  4. We don’t have any exposed pipes to worry about. But we do have some heat tape on the roof to prevent ice dams, and it runs down inside the drain pipes to keep the gutter flowing if needed. We don’t often have to use them, since we haven’t that much snow in recent years. We got a couple inches yesterday. None in the forecast. Cold though! Seven degrees this morning.🥶

  5. Hmm, we’re supposed to get some snowy rain this week here in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Maybe I should try the styrofoam cup trick on our bushes. Ha, ha, I doubt it would do any good, but I would definitely get a few confused looks from my neighbors. Lol

  6. The cups on the cacti is so neat – glad people do what they can for them. I have heard of heat tape, but here in the Philly suburbs we usually just resort to leaving faucets on “drip-mode” where we have exposed pipes or unheated spaces and they gets the job done. That shot of the coyote is a great capture.

  7. If you are unable to get heat tape, open the cabinet doors under relevant cupboards (particularly ones that are backed against outside walls) exposing them to the heated room air. Since the heat dries your sinuses put a kettle of water on your stove, bring to boil then reduce to a low simmer. Set a timer or TWO as a reminder to check often. Obviously, as you know, you do not want the kettle to go dry under a burner that is on! But as we get busy (or worse, fall asleep) it is easy to forget. A humidifier is the best option if you have one. When you retire or are no longer actively using your house water, turn the water taps (again, the ones where the pipes are along an outside wall), on to a slow drip or stream, accordingly. Heat tape works great (or so I’ve heard.) I have not used it, personally, as it can easily become a serious fire hazard, if not properly installed and maintained. Best of luck, my friend!
    At least your deep freeze will be temporary…here in eastern WA we are digging out from the last 3 foot dump of snow with the threat of single digit temps coming our way. The snow is beautiful though, and it does help insulate!
    **Oh, and don’t forget to unhook outdoor irrigation lines and hoses. If possible shut off water supply to outside hydrants/faucets, then wrap them in something insulating like layers of newspaper and/or rags. You can cover that with a vapor barrier i.e., a plastic garbage bag, etc., then wrap the whole thing with duct tape or twine. Your house may look temporarily less attractive, but it is common for the house pipes to start freezing from these outdoor spots that are vulnerable.
    Sending you the best of luck, dear friend, and WARM wishes for a Merry Christmas too!

    • Thank you for all the advice! Three feet of snow! I have been boiling water with a few slices of orange, a cinnamon stick, cloves and vanilla. It makes the room smell so nice! Merry Christmas!

Leave a Reply