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Posts Tagged ‘1977’

As some of you know (or as you’ve probably figured out), I’m a wuss when it comes to cold weather.  I simply can’t stand it.  Heat and humidity?…fine by me.  Rain?…bring it on.  Storms?…oh yeah!!  But cold?…no way.  So you can imagine that when our temperatures plunged last week, I was hating it.  Some giant Arctic air mass came down from…well…the Arctic, and those Canadians just let it come right on through.

It hit us hard last Wednesday afternoon with super-bitter cold (at least by Iowa standards).  I know it gets lots colder elsewhere…we’ve talked about it before, but this is Iowa, not the polar regions.  When I went to work Thursday morning, the bank display indicated -22°F, which is as cold as I’ve ever experienced.  It stayed below zero all day Thursday and all that night.  Friday’s bank-display passing was little better, at -16°F, but then the “warmup” started.  Since then, we’ve been in the 20’s and 30’s and all is right with the world again…it feels like summer.  Still, my wife and I are considering moving someplace warmer…like Puerto Rico.

That cold blast was felt all the way into the south, as temps in Atlanta dipped into the teens.  Our good friends in southern Florida, however, were mostly spared, as Miami’s temps remained in the mid to upper 60’s.  Of course, Miami rarely sees cold weather, or even cool weather.  And the city has almost never seen snow…almost.

On January 19, 1977, Miami got snow for the first (and only…so far) time in recorded history.  I’m no weather expert, but others are, and they say that some very unusual weather patterns that winter caused all kinds of temperature records to be broken in the southern United States.  On the 18th, Pensacola got a couple inches of snow, and high winds pushed the cold air, and the flakes, further and further south.  Before sunrise on the 19th, Palm Beach reported snow.  And throughout the morning, snow would fall in and around Miami.

Of course, the National Weather Service at Miami’s airport didn’t actually receive any snow, so no official snowfall was recorded.  But trace amounts were recorded all around the city.  And as the afternoon rolled around, temperatures warmed sufficiently to melt whatever was on the ground.

Within a couple days, temps would return to normal, but the cold had caused immense damage to Florida’s citrus and vegetable industry.  Entire crops were completely wiped out.  So, while residents of Miami got to see actual snowfall and the kids ran around like it was Christmas, the entire country paid (with higher produce prices) for that once-in-a-lifetime event.

It’s another grain of sand in the ever-growing pile that counts the reasons why I don’t like the cold…

Recommended Reading:  The Weather Doctor – Want more technical details?  Go here for the scoop.

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It was March 27, 1970 when the Concorde made its first supersonic flight, but airplanes not yet off the ground are the subject of Today’s History Lesson and are what dominated the news for months following this date in 1977.  The Canary Islands are famous for tourism and vacation getaways, but the island of Tenerife is also known for the deadliest airline disaster not connected with September 11, 2001.

In the mid-afternoon hours, two Boeing 747’s collided on the runway, killing nearly 600 passengers and crew.  The two jumbo jets started at opposite ends of the airport’s only runway, one taxiing, one taking off.  They met near the middle and collided just as the one jet was lifting off.  I was eight years old at the time, but I still remember it to some degree.  I vividly recall the issue of “Time” magazine with the big “How Safe?” cover sitting on our attic steps and me looking through it over and over again.

Investigators would later uncover a myriad of causes that led to the horrific effect, including fog, misunderstood and squelched communications, an impatient pilot, and an airport forced to handle aircraft that it really wasn’t designed to take.

I think there’s a ton of garbage on TV, but amongst the trash are a couple gems.  One such nugget is on the National Geographic channel and is called “Seconds From Disaster“.  The show takes all kinds of incidents (the Mount St. Helens eruption, F1 legend Ayrton Senna’s death, the crash of the afore-mentioned Concorde, etc.) and meticulously dissects the events leading up to them.  One of the episodes I watched detailed the Tenerife disaster, and I found it to be very revealing.  Look for that episode and watch it.  I believe it’s also possible to order episodes from National Geographic, so that may be an option as well.

Also, on this day in 1965, my parents were married.  Happy 43rd anniversary!!!

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