As the remnants of yesterday’s small ice storm quickly evaporate and the temperature climbs back up into the 60s this weekend, it’s nice to remember that the ability of freezing temperatures to completely shut down the city is nothing new.
But the record-setting storm that broke all of our brains in the first place happened in 1937 between Nov. 22-23, when 9.7 inches of snow blanketed the city. That record still stands, as far as NOAA is concerned. Here’s the not-at-all hyperbolic headline of the Austin Statesman from Nov. 23, just as we emerged from our fluffy two-day nightmare:
But nothing would ever be sane again, it seems — the brief, but profound breakdown of society Austinites witnessed during the storm was a genie that refused to climb back into the bottle.
Fast forward to Jan. 1966, when ice and sleet brought the city’s forecasted low down to 26 degrees Fahrenheit — and on the very same day, the Statesman reported on an attempted dynamite bombing at a garage on West Sixth Street.
Random violence, or the work of a madman deranged by the cold? You decide.
But still, the unique chaos of an Austin covered in ice and populated almost entirely by drivers with no conception of how to drive on it gave loads of opportunities to our local good samaritan crowd, as seen in this video from Jan. 1985 when two separate winter storms on Jan. 2 and Jan. 12-13 dropped a respective 3.9 and 3.6 inches of snow on the city:
Maybe things aren’t so bad after all. From the perspective of this video, it looks like the only problem Austin has with winter weather is our struggle to drive in icy conditions. Makes you miss those downtown streetcars, doesn’t it?
All images in this post courtesy of the Austin History Center.