Wanderlist: Places it might just snow

Wanderlist: Places it might just snow

Season 3 Episode 17



[SPONSOR] Under the Texas Sky is Brought to you in part by Toyota, a proud supporter of Texas Parks and Wildlife Programs. Toyota, Let’s Go Places.


[NARRATION] There’s one thing a lot of Texans actually love to see this time of year but it’s pretty rare in some parts of the state. Can you guess what I’m referring to? Snow of course.

On the Wanderlist, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine Editor Louie Bond and I discuss places in Texas it might just snow. We’ll also share some of your thoughts you shared with us through our Instagram account last week. Stay with us.


[NARRATION] From Texas Parks and Wildlife, this is Under the Texas Sky’s Wanderlist. I’m Randall Maxwell, and joining me by phone is Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine Editor, Louie Bond.


[RANDALL] Hi Louie, how are you?

[LOUIE] I’m great Randall. Happy Holidays

[RANDALL] Happy Holidays to you too Louie, and to our listeners. I know this is a festive week, what have you got planned?

[LOUIE] Well, you know like everyone else, it’s been a weird 2020 for me, but I’m looking forward to Christmas. You know, we’re gathering virtually with our family like a lot of people. But, you know, just, I’m thankful for our listeners, I’m thankful for the opportunity to tell stories about Texas, both in the magazine and here on the podcast, and there’s only one thing that could make Christmas better for me Randall, you know what that is?

[RANDALL] Oh, I’m going to take a wild guess (laughs), it’s this week’s Wanderlist, and it’s all about places it might just snow.

[LOUIE] I’m a kid who dreams of snow, who wishes for snow, who wants snow. I’ll never grow up when it comes to snow.

[RANDALL] (Sings) I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

[LOUIE] (laughter and sings along) Dreaming. You know Randall, as a kid I always thought we kind of got gypped. All the Christmas songs talk about snow and I grew up in Dallas and we even got more snow in Dallas than a lot of places in Texas, but not that much.

[RANDALL] You know, I grew up in Waco and we had a few snows. Very rarely do I remember you know, having to trudge across the tundra as they say. But this week’s Wanderlist is actually live in the magazine as we speak right?

[LOUIE] It is. For once it all worked out like kismet, like Christmas magic. This is our current Wanderlist, both you know on our website and on our app, and in the magazine, and the parks we look at are Caprock Canyons State Park, and Palo Duro up there in Panhandle. Davis Mountains and Indian Lodge out there in West Texas. Franklin Mountains right there in El Paso. You know El Paso gets their share of snow. And then out there in the wilds of Big Bend Ranch State Park. And when you want to experience snow at a state park, you know you gotta be prepared, so think before you go. Call the park and check. Due to Covid of course there’s some reservations required and some limited capacity, so we do urge you to check in before you venture out, especially in that kind of weather.

[RANDALL] Yeah, and Indian Lodge, you know, that’s just like a post card when you see snow on that adobe structure out there. It just looks so beautiful.

So, Louie, what are some of your favorite traditions this time of year?

[LOUIE] Well, check on our website or in the December issue for a picture of Indian Lodge in the snow.

[RANDALL] Awesome. Well, you know that when I grew up, one of the special things I think, I’d like to take snow and make it into ice cream. For whatever reason, I thought it just looked like ice cream out there on the ground.

[LOUIE] Right.

[RANDALL] And I was so inspired when I was a child that I ended up writing a poem about it. And my mom actually you know took the paper that I wrote it on and made a plaque out of it and put my little picture on it. (laughs)

[LOUIE] What a great mom.

[RANDALL] Yeah. It was a wonderful moment, and I was like so surprised that she did that because I just thought it was a scrap piece of paper, but I think it went something like this. “Snow. Oh how I hate you snow, because you had to go. I could not let you in, because you are so thin. So I made you into ice cream. You were so good. But you just had to go snow.” (laughter)

[LOUIE] So much angst at such a young age.

[RANDALL] I know (laughs), I think it was out of a fit of frustration. The snow only lasted half a day or something.

[LOUIE] I think every Texas kid can relate to that. I think we all put it in the freezer hoping to make it you know last for a while, but we know what happens. It loses that magic and it turns into just hard old ice.

[RANDALL] Yeah. (laughs)

[LOUIE] Which when you throw it at your sister will get you in trouble, I can tell you that (laughs).

[RANDALL] Yeah? Did you have a few snowball fights when you were younger?

[LOUIE] Growing up in Dallas, like I said, we were lucky enough to have a little bit of snow. The one that really stands out in my memory, and I had just turned five, so I was very young, but it actually snowed on January 16th and on January 17th, so it was in 1964, the first day, almost 8 inches. The second day, more than 4 more inches fell, so I was five, my sisters ten and fifteen. The whole neighborhood was building snow forts and having massive snowball fights. It was not a typical Texas moment, let me tell you. .

[RANDALL] Oh man.

[LOUIE] That has stuck with me forever.

[RANDALL] (laughs) Well, you know, we did last week put out a question on our Instagram account, and so many listeners, I mean, I think I counted two-hundred and sixty-three responses which is incredible

[LOUIE] Wow!

[RANDALL] And we asked, where and when did you first see snow in Texas, if ever? Jessica Johnston 18, she says: “I was 4 and it was phenomenal! I even got eaten by a snow bank!” (laughter) And then one of my, one that stands out to me is, TexWest78795, says: “Galveston, my first white Christmas.” And they added: “I’m 72 now.”

[LOUIE] Oh my gosh. Isn’t that amazing? I mean, that’s how these memories stick with you. I saw one on there, Chicken milk bomb, I love the names (laughter) our listeners use, says: “I don’t remember the first but I do remember the best.” And his or hers was… “Christmas Eve 2004, the Sea Wall in Galveston.” Now when it snows down on the coast, that is a super rare event.

[RANDALL] Yeah, all the more memorable, right?

[LOUIE] Right. Randall there actually was an incredible snowstorm in 2004 that I think Chicken milk bomb is referring to, it’s called the historic snowstorm of 2004, and it was on Christmas Eve, and Christmas. How perfect is that?


[LOUIE] They had 10 to 12 inches. Victoria had never seen that much snow, and I love this, the local weatherman said they had nothing to wear in the snow because it never snows there, so they taped plastic grocery bags around the kid’s shoes to keep them waterproofed. (laughter) There’s even a coffee table book of photos called the South Texas Christmas Miracle 2004.


[LOUIE] That was a memorable snow for a lot of our listeners on Instagram.

[RANDALL] Well, more of our listeners here, I want to mention Susan McFarley, she said: “Growing up in Houston, just a little bit.” She said she “had to scrape it off the car to build a tiny snowman”.

[LOUIE] Can’t we all relate to that?

[RANDALL] (laughs) That’s what those scrapers are good for.

[LOUIE] That’s right.

[RANDALL] Drudenhaus said: “A tiny bit in Dallas but my first ‘real snow’ in Texas was last weekend in Palo Duro State Park.”

[LOUIE] Congratulations Drudenhaus. Finally got snow. What a special thing, your first snow.

[RANDALL] Frogginhop said: “Denton, TX, in college. 3 days rolling blackouts and black ice.”

[LOUIE] The best snow is always like when you’re in college or high school isn’t it? And school’s just out and you’re just running around with your friends.

[RANDALL] Yeah, I’m wondering if I went to school with this person because, I went to school at North Texas State, it was called North Texas State back then, 84, 85, we had a huge snow. I still have pictures somewhere in some scrapbook of all the snow.

[LOUIE] I do remember back in the early 80s, I had just had a baby so she was born in 1984, so it was probably 1985 and it was like New England out here in the Hill Country. It was a beautiful snowfall that year.

[RANDALL] Well, Birding by RV said: “Only on Instagram!” Aww, that’s sad. (laughs)

[LOUIE] Aww. So sorry Birding by RV, maybe this year, maybe this year.

[RANDALL] Whiskey From the Rocks said: “Meridian State Park.” They said: “ My dad was a ranger and we lived there in the park. 1986 or so.”

[LOUIE] I want to live in a park. What fun is that?

[RANDALL] Yeah, Boy imagine life growing up everyday in a state park.

[LOUIE] I know, that’s like heaven.

[RANDALL] That’s cool. Michelle ma belle 830: “In Kerrville, Feb 2003. It was heaven” they said. “We ran all over town making snow angels.” That does sound pretty fun. (laughter)

[LOUIE] You gotta have some snow for snow angels, that’s not bad.

[RANDALL] Brooks Wildlife mentioned: “Coastal Texas, and always after we have a major hurricane. First year was 1983” they said. So.

[LOUIE] That’s an interesting theory. I wonder if there’s something to that.

[RANDALL] And here’s one that just says, “Haaaa!” (laughs) by Connie Chuisano. (more laughter) Priyanka Shetivar, I hope I said that correctly, said: “Neva.” (laughs) So, there you go.

[LOUIE] (laughs) There were some other non-believers too. But it does snow sometimes.

[RANDALL] Yep, non-believers. There they are. Henly Hutchinson said: “I don’t remember seeing it, but it snowed a lot the day I was born.” (laughs)

[LOUIE] Woooh. You got the magic right away. Hey Randall, do you know what the heaviest snowfall in Texas was historically?

[RANDALL] I do not. Please enlighten me.

[LOUIE] Well, again, it was one of those 24 hours over two days’ kind of things, back in 1929. Times were hard back then to begin with I’m sure. This probably didn’t help. A little before Christmas, December 20th and 21st, and the storm totals over 24 hours were extraordinary. There was a swath of snowfall in excess of 12 inches, 2 to 3 counties wide. That’s a huge area for that, and along the axis of maximum depth, the totals were over two feet. Clifton had it 24 inches. Hillsboro had 26 inches, and that’s the all-time 24-hour snowfall record for the state of Texas. Way to go Hillsboro.


[LOUIE] And also it got super cold at that time. There was also a record snowfall in Waco that day, and the mercury fell to 2°F, one of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in Waco. And Clifton bottomed out at zero degrees. We don’t see that often in Texas.

[RANDALL] No, not often, but that whole area, that Clifton, you know, Valley Mills, Waco region, you know, well that’s where I grew up. But we always found either ice out in the pond, or if it snowed we could always find something to do during the winter time, and it’s just such a beautiful area. I just really love that region of Texas.

[LOUIE] Well, I guess you missed that ’29 snowfall Randall. (laughs)

[RANDALL] (laughter) Thankfully it only lives in stories now.

[LOUIE] (laughter)


[NARRATION] Next, Louie will help us distinguish between some different types of freezing precipitation, and we’ll both share our thoughts as we close out the last Wanderlist of the season. But first…

[SPONSOR] Support from Toyota allows us to bring you stories from Under the Texas Sky. Toyota has been a proud sponsor of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation since 2002, providing generous support to help the department provide outdoor programs for Texans and to conserve the wildlife of the Lone Star State.

This is Under the Texas Sky’s Wanderlist from Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Randall Maxwell…Wanderlist is a collaboration with Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine. Editor Louie Bond and I have been talking about snow in Texas. She’s about to tell us all about graupel, and that’s where we pick up our conversation.


[LOUIE] One thing that I’ve heard of recently on the weather called grauple, I didn’t know what that was, so I kind of looked up what is snow and what is sleet, and what is graupel. Well, you want to know what I found out?

[RANDALL] What is it?

[LOUIE] So, snow is precipitation in the form of ice crystals. It kind of goes from vapor into ice without ever going through liquid up there in the clouds. So, snow pellets, it’s got this new name called graupel, I never heard of until recently, those are opaque ice particles in the atmosphere, and they form as ice crystals that fall through super cooled cloud droplets, and they kind of form this lumpy mass that’s sort of soft and crumble. So if you see something like that on the ground, it’s not exactly snow, not exactly hail. It’s graupel.


[LOUIE] And the third kind of snow is sleet, which we are all pretty familiar with, which is sort of drops of drizzle that freeze into ice as they fall. There’s one other thing called hail, but we all know that hail is not snow. (laughs) And it hurts a lot more when it falls.

[RANDALL] (laughs) and it breaks windshields, that’s for sure.

[LOUIE] So that’s Louie pretending to be a weatherman. (laughter)

[RANDALL] Well, graupels kind of sounds like uh, what’s that ice cream that’s like little microdots or whatever,

[LOUIE] Oh, that astronaut ice cream.

[RANDALL] Yeah, yeah, that stuff could be graupel. (laughs)

[LOUIE] I don’t know, I thought maybe it sounded like something you drink on a cold day, but I’m not sure.

[RANDALL] (big laughter) Would you pass the graupel please. That’s funny. Well, Louie, you know this is our last Wanderlist of the season, and I have so enjoyed having conversations with you. I, you know, appreciate all of our listeners, and I know, maybe there’s a chance we might get a little white Christmas here in the month of December. It might snow some places in Texas, and I know it already has in some areas, like obviously in Palo Duro Canyon State Park. So, what’s your wish going forward?

[LOUIE] Well, first I’d like to that you and the wonderful Cecilia Nasti for inviting me to be a part of the podcast this season. We’ve so enjoyed sharing our Wanderlists from the magazine, and hope that, you know, Covid’s over soon so that we can all get out and see all of the wonders of Texas, and I invite everyone to keep up with more Wanderlists in the magazine as the year goes along. Do hope to be back soon on the podcast with you and have some more fun. I’m not an expert on anything, but it doesn’t slow me down one bit. (laughs)

[RANDALL] (laughs)

[LOUIE] But for our listeners, again thank you so much, and I really think everyone needs a little magic this year, so I hope we don’t get any of that snow that inconveniences us too much, but maybe just a little magical dusting on Christmas day or some pretty morning in January.

[RANDALL] That would be nice.

[LOUIE] Feel your spirits lifted, put that magic back in your life.

[RANDALL] Well, thanks again Louie, and happy holidays everyone.

[LOUIE] Happy Holidays.


[NARRATION] We’re done wandering for this podcast… we’ll be back with more fascinating things to see and places to explore in the Lone Star State.

Before heading to any state park, historic site or natural area, call ahead or search online for updated admission information. For state parks and natural areas, you can reserve camping sites and day passes online by visiting TexasStateParks.org.

Also, keep an eye on the Under the Texas Sky Instagram account, which is @Underthetxsky. We’ll use it to notify you of some of the Wanderlist subjects we plan to cover, and give you a chance to ask questions, some of which we’ll answer on the podcast.

Under the Texas Sky is a production of Texas Parks and Wildlife. We produce our Wanderlist series in partnership with Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine in the Media Production Studios in Austin, Texas. Yours truly did the sound design. Whitney Bishop does our social media. And we get distribution and web help from Susan Griswold and Benjamin Kailing.

Stream or download Under the Texas Sky and Under the Texas Sky’s Wanderlist wherever you get your podcasts. And please leave a review while you’re there and let us know how we’re doing and what you’d like to hear.

Until next time…keep on wandering Under the Texas Sky. I’m Randall Maxwell.