The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

 
 

There's a reason 'Winter Texan' is a thing

 

Coming from South Texas, this week's snowstorm is definitely not something that I have experienced many times in my life.

Sure, as a military brat, I've seen my share of snowfall when my father was stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany back in my early days of grade school, but in that case the weather was more constant than sudden. I was also not yet in double digits, so the memories aren't as vivid as they once were.

As you can imagine, snow in South Texas is as rare as a winter swallow. But it did happen once, in 2004, and on Christmas Eve of all occasions.

I was 23 years old at the time, about one year removed from college, and was home for the holidays visiting my family. Winters in Alice, Texas, America, tended to vary from summer hot to a brisk-for-the-area 50 degrees. After all of these years, I don't recall how the weather was that winter, but I do remember the television weatherman saying that snow was a possibility.

I don't think anybody in my family believed it at the time. My grandmother remembered it snowing in town in mid-1970, something she would occasionally bring up when the weather was chilly, and there was always a seasonal hail shower, not enough to call it a storm, but by and large, when water rained from the sky, it was far from frozen.

By the morning of Christmas Eve, the temperature started to drop quickly and in the early afternoon snow began to fall. I remember watching for a while from my window and wondering if it would last long enough to stick.

By evening, Alice had become a veritable "Winter Wonderland." My online research shows that nearly one foot of snow fell in town that day, and it was a beautiful sight seeing my neighborhood blanketed in white.

I put on my thickest winter coat, you might call it a "windbreaker" here, and went out walking the streets. I think I made it just a few blocks before turning back around. Watching children out trying to have snowball fights and the like showed I wasn't alone in feeling the chill.

But even as I enjoyed the unexpected White Christmas, a thought lingered in the back of my mind: How well was this town going to handle this?

As it turned out, not well at all.

Common sense would tell most people that snow is simply frozen rain, and when compressed by things like vehicle and foot traffic, it becomes ice. Pretty soon, the roads of Alice resembled the Ice Capades, with Ford and Chevy trucks as far as the eye could see performing not-so-graceful pirouettes and plies into one another.

Predictably, the sun returned to full-force the next day and soon our snow-covered Christmas Eve became a sludge-flooded Christmas Day.

Wednesday brought back these memories as I chose to leave my vehicle where I parked it. I figured it would be safer, for me and for the rest of Sidney, if I braved the snowstorm on foot rather than in my truck.

And I'm proud to say that I fell on my rear only twice.

 

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