Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Houston Snow: 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Winter

The 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History prompt for Week 2 is Winter:

What was winter like where and when you grew up? Describe not only the climate, but how the season influenced your activities, food choices, etc.

Growing up in Houston, Texas, we really didn't HAVE much of a winter. I lived in Houston from our move there in early 1958, nine months after my birth, through my high school graduation in 1975. I was home occasionally while in college over the next few years, through my move to Corpus Christi, Texas in early 1979, until moving to Washington State in late 1984.

If we had snow in Houston, it was a REALLY BIG DEAL. Indeed, I can only remember two significant snowfalls growing up. The photos above of me (the first one) and of my sister Mary, as well as the next two below (of the snowman we built in the backyard, and Dad with our basset hound Bismarck) are from 38 years ago today, January 11, 1973, when two inches was officially recorded according to the Weather Research Center.

Apparently we had a couple other snowfalls that year, each 1.4 inches, in February, but I don't remember those, nor do I remember various incidents of trace snowfall in the early 60's. What I DO remember is Houston's second biggest snowfall (to date), 4.4 inches, on February 12, 1960:

The pictures show my sister Karen and I building a small snowman on the driveway and riding our trikes there, but I don't remember this. What I DO remember (and it is my earliest memory, from age 34 months) is sitting on the white vinyl living room couch, I think between Mom and Dad, that evening, watching more snow fall on the snowman in the backyard (photo below) that my sister and I helped my parents build.

By the way, Houston's largest recorded snowfall was February 14-15, 1895, when 20 inches fell! Here's a photo of that amazing event.  My great-grandfather, Charles Peter Guokas, was living in the Houston area at the time.

The only influence I remember winter having on our family's food choices was the likelihood that Mom would serve oatmeal or Cream of Wheat on the mornings (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday school days) when we would normally have cold cereal on warmer days. (Tuesday and Thursday were soft-boiled egg days.)

© Amanda Pape - 2011


  1. Hey cool, I've been looking for information about record snowfalls in Houston. I could see how 5 inches of snow could fall in Houston, but 20 inches! Are you serious? Did that really happen? Also thanks for the pictures. That's a big snow man. This is the only snowman that I have been able to make in Houston. http://www.josephsreallife.blogspot.com/2010/12/1-year-anniversary-of-snow-in-houston.html : )

    1. Hi Joseph - thank you for commenting! According to Houston's Weather Research Center, there really was 20 inches of snow in Houston over February 14-15, 1895. Check out the links in my post to a photo of that snow downtown, the Weather Research Center, and their listing of all the snows in Houston (the "officially recorded" link). Of course Houston is so big nowadays that the amount of snow can vary from one part of town to the other. I notice you had 1.2 inches in your neighborhood on December 4, 2009, but the official measurement was only one inch.