Otherworldly, Amazingly Quiet, Like A Faraway Land: Remembering San Antonio's Great 1985 Snowstorm

Jan 16, 2018

From Texas Standard.

Much of Texas woke up to frozen roads and windshields covered in ice this morning – a bad winter storm, to be sure. But as winter weather events go, this certainly pales in comparison to what happened 33 years ago this week in San Antonio. In 1985, a winter wonderland descended on the Alamo city with the kind of impact few Texans had ever seen before.

Anyone who was there has memories of the snowstorm.

Tyler Kraft says he was 5 or 6 at the time. “It was the first time I’d ever seen snow. I remember waking up that morning and there was a lot of snow, and I had no frame of reference.” He threw on some clothes to go outside: two pairs of pajamas, jeans, two or three pairs of socks, Walmart bags over his feet, four or five shirts, and the heaviest jacket he had. 

The event shattered records. Mark Langford, a photographer and weather-lover in Helotes, remembers what looked like ski slopes. “It was very, very quiet,” he says. “There was no airline traffic because the airport was closed, and no one was driving around, so it was just amazingly quiet for the 24 to 36 hours when the city was shut down.” 

San Antonio City Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales was 13 years old and she remembers feeling like she was in a faraway land. She and her older brother were drifting apart during those teenage years, but that awkwardness was no match for the snowstorm. “Suddenly we were kids again,” she says, “throwing snowballs at each other and wrestling in the snow, and it all came right back to us. That’s what I remember about it the most.” 

Texas State Rep. Diego Bernal remembers that the snow didn’t stop – it just kept going and going. “Everybody was just completely overjoyed,” he says. “You were experiencing something otherworldly together.” 

Written by Jen Rice.