Jan 10, 2016

December 2015 Blizzard

dec. 25-26 blizzard

By Neoma Williams

After a moderate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day weather-wise, Hart residents joined their counterparts in the Panhandle and South Plains to prepare for a blizzard, which began on the night of December 26.

At the Hart Weather Station south of Hart on FM168, 8.6 inches of snow was recorded with drifts of up to ten feet. Precipitation recorded from the snow was 0.66 inches; the year’s total was 31.15 inches of moisture.

According to the National Weather Service in Amarillo, the top ten weather events in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles for the 20th Century included the spring blizzard (March 22-25) of 1957 in third place. Drifts up to 30 feet were recorded in the Texas Panhandle, with 10-20 inches of snow recorded.

The year before, 1956, proved the largest “unofficial” snow totals occurred in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles:  43 inches in Vega, 24 in Hereford and 14 in Amarillo. It snowed continuously for 92 hours in some locations.

I don’t remember the 1956 event much, but remember the 1957 one more. I was nine in March 1957 and remember the tall snow drifts. I remember that “Bird” Cox, owner and operator of Cox Butane, was called out to deliver some butane to a rural house, and was stranded. He fared well, staying with his truck.

I scanned the Plainview Herald for some news on this, and found little. I plan to talk to a few people who remember this better than I. I remember my father and brother going to the shop to get a vehicle ready to get Bird. The shop was full of snow, and they came back in the house,  hoping that Mr. Cox would survive. It was difficult for them to even get to the shop, which is about 50 feet from the back door of the house.

I recall missing about two weeks of school…think it was 1957…we made up the days by going to school on Saturdays.

This December, when I finally was able to get to my chicken house to check on my flock, I discovered that Clara, a hen that becomes broody a few times a year, was covered in snow in the nest box. The snow had filled up the nest box, driven in there by the high winds. I dug her out, and she is fine. I suppose she thought she was protecting her eggs (babies).

Because the snow drifts so much on the driveway by the garage, I had moved an old Suburban to the west side of the house. I had faced it north, and snow had accumulated under the hood, filling up the engine compartment. It couldn’t be driven until the snow was removed.

The top two weather events were the Dust Bowl (1930-39) in first place and the April 9, 1947, White Deer/Glazier/Higgins tornado. The tornado completely destroyed Glazier and nearly destroyed Higgins. There were 68 Panhandle deaths. It is the only documented F5 tornado in the Panhandle. The tornado or family of tornadoes remained on the ground for 5 hours and 20 minutes on a path from White Deer, Texas to St. Leo, Kansas.