3/07/2008

The Great Blizzard of '08





Children, gather 'round, and let me tell you all about the great Denton blizzard of '08. It happened in early March, a time of year when we Texans generally start thinking about going to the beach.


The weather had been warming up for weeks, and March 1 reached a high of 80 degrees. Folks in the DFW metroplex were eating in outdoor cafes, wearing t-shirts and shorts. On March 2, Texas Independence Day, we had a light dusting of snow and got all excited about it. This fell on a Sunday, and did not impact most folks' work or school commuting schedules. The ground had already started its spring time warm up, jonquils and tulips were blooming in flowerbeds, the soil had been tilled for planting backyard vegetable gardens. It quickly melted away.


March 6 dawned like any other day. The weatherman predicted a weather system approaching from the west, but said that snow mixed with rain would not likely reach our area until dinner time or later.


By 11 am in Denton, the snow started falling. It wasn't the usual little icy pellets we normally call " snow" in Texas, but big fluffy wet flakes, the size of quarters . Down and down it floated, and started accumulating. By noon there were several inches on all the cars in the parking lots . By 12:30, the school district I teach for decided that the weather was rapidly getting worse, and schools would be closed and folks sent home. An announcement came over the PA system at the high school where I teach, and as soon as the principal said , " school will be closed", 500 students sitting in the cafeteria at lunch got up and ran out of the building. They were probably worried he'd change his mind. All the kids with cars drove off. All the kids who rode the buses were told to stay in class, but by then it was too late. They were all outside , playing in the snow. ( The old saws among us nodded to one another and said, " a whole new generation of students will be created today....")


Teachers were told to stay and maintain order, but that was about as effective as Kevin Bacon screaming "Order ! I will have order ! " in the final scenes of the movie"Animal House", where the Deltas have wreaked their havoc on the Faber Homecoming Parade, and all chaos is breaking loose. A panic soon ensued among the teachers, who were told to stay till the end of the normal school day around 4 pm, but many of whom had little children , in other schools, which were now closing. Eventually a plan was developed to send all the high schoolers who could be rounded up, into an assembly hall, to be watched by a few stalwarts, while everyone else fled the scene.


I left campus around 2:15pm. My older son left earlier with friends. My younger son was dismissed at noon, and I could not get ahold of him or the hubster to see if he had picked him up. The snow was still falling, and at this moment, was near blizzard conditions. Visibility was about 20-30 ft. Roads were packed with cars crawling along , skidding out, bumping into each other. My normal 1.5 mile commute takes me about 5 min, door-to-door. This day it took me over 45 min to get home. At one point I skidded on a patch of ice, and rolled into an embankment with 3-4 foot drifts. Fortunately, I remembered how to get out of this predicament ( put car in lower gear, and reverse, alternately, and get control of the wheels, and keep steering until one can maneuver the car again). Many others were stuck all around me, but I had to press on my journey, not knowing where my youngest son was .


Eventually, I made it safely home. Hubby arrived at about the same time, with younger son. Both my kids bundled up ( no one had worn coats to school that day ! are you kidding ? this is Texas in March ! ) and ran out to the park to play with friends. I took a few photos, seen here, then started cooking.....made a big pot of coq au vin, a salad, some fresh bread. Around dinner time, my kids came home with 8 of their friends, all hungry from having played in the snow. Fortunately, I had plenty of Swiss Miss and cookies to feed the ravaging hordes.


School, naturally was cancelled the next day. We all slept in and enjoyed our day off.


And that was the great blizzard of 2008.

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