The time it snowed knee-deep to a Galveston stevedore

Anyone who has read Sebastian Junger’s book “The Perfect Storm,” or have more likely seen the film starring George Clooney adapted from the book, probably understand the title’s meaning. The story tells of the events leading up to the “Great Halloween Nor’easter of 1991” with its title born after a conversation by Junger and Boston National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Case after the weatherman has spoken of just the right conditions converging in order to form “the perfect storm.”

This afternoon I was looking at some snowfall records for my area — on the upper Texas Gulf Coast — and wondered about just what perfect storm had formed that gave this area its greatest snowfall ever and one it hasn’t seen since.

NWS records show that the most snow ever recorded for Beaumont was the 30 inches that fell on Feb. 14-15, 1895. The second greatest was one in 1960 during which 4.4 inches fell. I don’t remember that one because it happened when I was only 4 years old and living about 60 miles to the northeast of where I now live. The third greatest snowfall, though, I do remember. It was in 1973 and was still growing up in my hometown. Beaumont received 3 inches during that January snowfall and since we got so few snows we really didn’t know how to properly measure it. But from what I can remember of it, I’d say it probably was around that depth. I do remember it was my first time to drive in snow. Luckily, the streets were empty that evening.

Now I’m sure you who live where a lot of snow falls during the winter would scoff at even the 30 inch snow. Nonetheless, that is a boatload for this area and it was part of a storm that affected the Gulf Coast all the way to Tampico, Mexico, to Pensacola, Fla. Beaumont and Orange must have been “ground zero” during that 1895 snow because this area seemed to have recorded the most snow with a dusting in northern Mexico on one end to several inches in Florida on the other.

The fact that there has never been a snowfall to equal it has to be somewhat significant in meteorological terms, or so I’d think.

As some seem to believe the liberals push the idea that every aberrant weather event is caused by global warming there nevertheless had to be some extraneous factors going on for a large snowstorm this far South back near the end of the century-before-last. A column I found about that winter storm written about Galveston plus an Internet comment made by a reader advances the idea that the 1895 storm might have indeed been the perfect storm for this area.

A gentleman writing in response to this most interesting column by Galveston weather expert Stan Blazyk on the Galveston County Daily News website surmised that material blasted out of the violent Indonesian volcano Krakatoa might have played a part in this great snowstorm. I have heard of and read about such effects from volcanoes and have seen as much myself from the Philippine’s Mt. Pinatubo’s in 1991.  In fact, the volcano released more aerosols and sulfur dioxide than any other eruption since Krakatoa in 1883.  Pinatubo lowered the global temperature by almost 1 full degree Fahrenheit.

Blazyk said Krakatoa most likely did have an impact on temperatures although an emergence had begun to take place from a cooling trend that had lasted until the middle part of the 19th century. I am naturally skeptical so the fact that the effects from both the cooling trend and Krakatoa happening years apart from massive Southern snow make me wonder if such is possible. Yet, I have to say, probably so, because I am sure anyone knows more than I do about the scientific aspects of the atmosphere.

I would hate to get on the roads with others who are even more cold-weather driving-challenged that myself though I must admit I wouldn’t mind seeing 2 1/2 feet of snow falling on this part of Southeast Texas. That is, I wouldn’t mind it if it required no labor or extreme exercise to get through it on my part. In other words, I wouldn’t mind watching it but little else.