Winter storm strands Canadian family in RV in Texas

Annick Ruedi and her young daughter headed south this year in hopes of a more pleasant winter.

“The goal has always been to spend Christmas in beautiful South Texas,” the Ottawa resident said. “To finally escape the piles of snow and freezing temperatures that we have every year in Canada.”

But mother nature had other plans. Like tens of millions of other people, they were swept away by a historic winter storm that brought brutally cold temperatures to much of North America.

The storm wreaked havoc on highways, dumped several feet of snow on unsuspecting regions and canceled thousands of flights amid the chaos of the holiday travel season.

Now Ms Ruedi, 47, and Emeline, 9, are sheltering inside their rented RV trailer at Mustang Island State Park in Texas. The small spit of land, which sits on the Gulf of Mexico not far from the city of Corpus Christi, saw temperatures dip Friday afternoon below freezing with a biting wind chill at the top.

Outside their RV, huge waves crashed and palm trees tilted in the wind.

Ms Ruedi, a marketer who works remotely, had rented the motorhome so her daughter could experience the wonders of the United States. The pair embarked on their American adventure in October, traveling through the states of Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida before arriving in Texas this month.

When they first arrived on South Padre Island in Texas this week, they were hoping to enjoy the pleasant weather typical of this time of year. Instead, they encountered high winds and temperatures that froze their faces the moment they emerged.

“In one night I used up a whole tank of propane,” Ms Ruedi told the BBC. “It’s so cold that you go through propane very easily. In a motorhome, it’s not very well insulated.”

At first, she tried to find a hotel room or Airbnb, but her search was fruitless. Ms. Reudi then decided to go to Mustang Island on Thursday in the hope of finding better conditions.

They do not have.

“The Gulf of Mexico started shaking last night! the National Weather Service’s Corpus Christie station tweeted on Friday. Their buoys have recorded waves as high as 16 feet and winds as high as 45 miles per hour. The city of Corpus Christi planned to open several warming centers and warned residents that wind chill could send temperatures into the Fahrenheit digits.

Mustang Island’s official website shows two happy beachgoers in swimsuits. Instead, Ms Ruedi and her daughter put on several layers inside their motorhome and closed their window curtains to trap the heat.

“I was pretty smart, I packed our Canada winter gear just to be on the safe side,” Ms Ruedi said. She added that they had enough supplies and found a sense of community among other park travelers.

With their winter getaway not going as planned, young Émeline was disappointed – not that it was cold, but that it wasn’t cold enough.

“Nope!” she said, when asked by the BBC if she wanted the storm to end. “We want the cold because I like the snow!”

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