Thursday, March 12, 2009

March snow

It snowed this morning. But you knew that. In a matter of minutes, from the time the wife went out to get the newspaper until gazing out the window a short time later, a white dusting covered Amarillo.

And you really knew that it snowed if you drove to work this morning where wet and icy roads made the interstate especially treacherous.

What was it, 85 degrees about this time last week? Snows this time of the year are not uncommon. Heck, any kind of weather this time of year is not uncommon.

One of the worst blizzards in this area's history happened around Feb. 20, 1971. As a kid, I remember there was lightning all night. Through bedroom curtains, it looked like a thunderstorm. It was coming down all right, but it was snow. About 20 inches of snow fell and it paralyzed the area for days.

The worst snowstorm I had the honor of driving in was on March 8, 1998. I was helping cover the South Central Regional championship basketball game between West Texas A&M and Central Oklahoma at the WT Fieldhouse.

A sudden blizzard hit just before tipoff that temporarily knocked out power and delayed the start of the game. It was a great game, one WT won, 105-101, to go to the national tournament. As hot as it was in the Fieldhouse, it was windy and snowy outside for at least two hours as the game raged on.

I was doing a column on the game for the next day. We were short on laptop computers so my plan was to drive back to the Globe-News and knock out a column in the office for our city edition. I just didn't know earlier in the day I'd have to do it in a whiteout.

While more than 50 people spent the night in the Henson Activities Center, I had no choice but to get back. It was brutal. I could barely see in front of the hood. I had to concentrate on road reflectors to get any sense of where I was. Driving on an overpass was a strange sensation that you were heading to who knows where.

It took me 45 minutes to get back, but somehow I did. You could have bounced quarters off my shoulders they were so tight. God does look after idiots. I didn't know it until later but DPS closed I-27 between Amarillo and Canyon that night. There were more than 85 wrecks from 7 p.m. until midnight in Amarillo.

I'm sure it was in the 70s a couple of days later.

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