White Christmas, Oklahoma City Style

Well, we finally had a “White Christmas” here in Oklahoma City, and it was a doozy.

Oklahomans don’t really see the white stuff at Christmas; in fact, big snowstorms are pretty much of a rarity altogether in the Sooner State. The last big snowstorm that blew through OKC hit in January 1988 and dropped 12″ of snow. And there have only been twelve Christmases with snow on the ground in Oklahoma City since 1890.

Today will be number 13, and the storm that hit yesterday set a new one-day snowfall record of 14.1″ at Will Rogers World Airport. It was a blizzard in every sense of the word, with steady winds of 30 – 40 mph and gusts up to 75 mph, blinding snow, sleet, and numerous power outages — including our neighborhood.

Every interstate and major highway through Oklahoma City was closed down by the OHP. I-44 north and south of Oklahoma City (the Turner and H. E. Bailey Turnpikes, respectively) were also closed down and still remain closed due to snow drifts and a high number of abandoned or stranded vehicles. Authorities warned of a 12 – 24 hour rescue wait for motorists stranded along the various interstates. A 50-car pile-up shut down I-40 east of Oklahoma City, and a 20-car pile-up shut down the same road west of the City. Major city streets and thoroughfares like Lake Hefner Parkway and Broadway Extension are still littered with abandoned vehicles.

The north wind blew snow through cracks in our front door and fluttered our curtains, even with the windows shut tight. After the power went out — we call our electric service “Old Reliable” because we have had so many major power interruptions in our neighborhood that we can’t remember them all — we spent the evening huddled around the kitchen table playing board games by lantern light. We cooked dinner on the propane camping stove and bundled everyone up in their beds with socks, pajamas, and lots of blankets. For fun we listened to some of my cassette tapes of old time radio shows; I had been wanting to share these with my kids for some time, and last night provided the perfect opportunity. They really enjoyed the comedies, especially the 1949 NBC Theater version of Bob Hope’s “The Ghost Breakers.”

Santa made it through with no problems however, and the kids opened presents wearing pajamas, sweatpants, coats, hats, mittens, socks, and shoes. It was cold enough in the house this morning to see your breath.

My sister in law’s house had power, and we decided to dig out our driveway and try to make it across town for Christmas dinner with them. But just as we finished digging out the driveway and loading up the kids in the toasty-warm car, our lights came back on. Everyone is nice and warm now, playing with their Christmas gifts. The smell of roasted ham still fills the house. I’m tired out from shoveling the snow drifts, but looking forward to a wonderful Christmas evening with my family.

May all of WizBang’s great writers, readers, and commenters have a joyous and safe Christmas 2009.

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