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A Crippling Snowstorm in Tucson Arizona
A Little Snow Goes a LONG Way in Tucson
Having grown up in Rochester, New York and gone to college in Superior, Wisconsin, snow and cold weather are nothing new to me.
However, I have lived in Tucson, Arizona for the past 20+ years and snow is rare here. When I was in college in Superior we once had snowstorm one night in May. While it was a wet snow that began melting at daybreak and was gone by late afternoon. However, the storm dumped enough snow to require the shoveling of walks that morning.
We didn't get a lot of snow, by Superior's standards, and it melted within a couple of days but I know it was many times the total amount of snow that has fallen on Tucson since I moved here in 1983.
I give this as perspective so that readers living a few degrees of latitude north of Tucson will not laugh, too hard, at the pictures I present below of the January 22, 2007 storm that closed many schools and places of work here.
For additional perspective consider this:
Prior to the recent, near crippling, storm of 2007 the next most recent storm that dumped enough snow on the ground to measure was on January 30, 2002 when we were inundated with six-tenths of an inch (1.524 centimeters) of snow.
That was the big one of '02 and, having had no snow since then, we were not exactly prepared for the even bigger storm of '07.
Here is my account of the storm as I recorded it with my camera.
Locations Where I have Lived With Snow
Rochester, NY where I grew up. This is in the snow belt of New York State and its winters are generally white.
Superior, WI where I spent 4 years in college. The natives may disagree, but my opinion is that it has 9 months of winter & 3 months of cool weat
Tucson has two seasons - a hot summer and a warm Spring/Fall during which a fraction of an inch of snow falls every decade or so.
Taking in the Sights
Having checked out the backyard, I moved to the front of the house. I enjoyed the crisp, cool air and, with the sunshine and clear sky, it looked to be a good day.
The frost covered roofs on the homes along the street brought back memories of the snow covered roofs of my childhood up north.
Hey, we make do with what we have. Maybe frost covered roofs are not quite as impressive as snow-covered roofs. But then, pushing the button on the garage door opener and driving out without first spending two hours shoveling the snow out of the driveway kind of balances things out.
Thinking about shoveling snow always reminds me of the times when my Father was still alive and he and my Mother would always come to Tucson for a visit in February when a cold day was when the temperature dropped below 70 degrees.
My Father always made sure to avoid winter in Tucson (which usually occurs some time in January and a severe winter can last up to a week (that is a long time to have to endure 60 degreee weather).
Every afternoon while he was here, my Father would take the small TV out to the patio, sit in the sun and turn the news to watch the stories showing people back home in Rochester digging out from the latest snowstorm.
Clearing Frost off a Car Windshield With a Credit Card
Our garage holds two cars - my wife's and mine. The first child home who doesn't mind being awaken early to move their car, parks in the driveway while the other two have to find an empty parking spot in the community.
Exposed to the elements, like the roofs of homes, cars parked outside were also covered with frost that morning.
How, asked my son, who had never encountered frost on a car window before, do we clear the windows?
In my most philosophical of tones, I replied The view of frost on rooftops in the morning. Priceless! For everything else, there is MasterCard.
He promptly went into the house to seek a less philosophical answer from his Mother. But, seriously, a MasterCard, or any plastic credit card for that matter, is very effective at scraping frost from car windows.
Of course it is not the best thing for the card so, if you live in an area that has real winter you should use the MasterCard to purchase a real scraper but, when you only need to scrape frost off of windows once every decade or so, the card works fine.
While the morning started out sunny, the clouds began rolling in during the afternoon and the temperature began dropping. As evening approached the temperature continued to drop and a light rain began falling.
After doing some late afternoon grocery shopping, I pulled into the parking lot of the Wal-Mart about a mile SE of our home and the light rain suddenly turned into a light snow. It wasn't much of a snow.
However, as I entered the store I overheard a couple of children expressing their thrill over the snow (it was probably the first time it snowed in their lives) and I laughed as one expressed the hope that the schools would be closed in the morning. Sure kid! I thought to myself.
Little did I know how prophetic that child's wish was.
ICE - the big problem
Settling in with the heat on and a good movie I was not too concerned with the drizzling rain outside (it never snowed in our neighborhood) figuring it would end soon.
However, I became a little concerned when by older son (who writes under the name of Sith Penguin on HubPages) came home a little later with pictures of the snow he had taken with his cell phone on the way home from work which is about 5 miles east of where we live.
While not a big storm by standards of any place but Tucson, any snow and ice on the roads here is dangerous, first because we have no salt to put on the roads, and, second, because most people in town have no experience driving in snow.
Further, my wife and daughter, each of whom has only two years of driving experience and no experience with driving in snow and ice, both worked in the same general area as Sith Penguin and wouldn't be home until later in the evening.
Fortunately, they did make it home safely and we all went to bed.
I awoke to the spectacular scenes, shown above, of snow on the mountains but no snow, only frost, on the ground in the neighborhood.
Crisis Over - As Snow Quickly Melts
As with all snowstorms in Tucson, the snow was gone before we knew it. The unusual thing about this storm was that it occurred on a cold night. It was the freezing cold which both preserved the snow for us to view the next morning and caused ice to form on all of the bridges. The snow was no problem, it was the ice on the bridges, which caused them to be shut down, that crippled the city.
On Monday morning we awoke to bridges that were impossible to drive over and one truck to deliver sand to them. Some, like me, were fortunate and did not have to cross an icy bridge so we arrived at work on time. But most found their way blocked at the first bridge.
However, due to the efforts of our sand truck and the late rising sun, the ice was soon cleared from the bridges and all we were left with were stories and pictures of the Great Storm of '07.
Have you had a day off from work or school due to snow?
© 2007 Chuck Nugent