Who else is just sick of the cold? As we wait for the return of warm weather, I recalled growing up in the 1980s and thinking it just seemed colder then.
After looking at the dates of coldest days on record from the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi, my memory my not be as faulty as I thought. Three of the coldest were 13 degrees on Dec. 23, 1989, 14 degrees on Dec. 25, 1983, and 15 degrees on Dec. 24, 1989.
The 1983 freeze made the week around Christmas a devastatingly cold one. Five days of record low temperatures were recorded, with Christmas Day the coldest. Temperatures dropped so low that portions of Oso Bay and Corpus Christi Bay around the marina froze.
The ’83 freeze is remembered by anglers and wildlife biologists for inducing one of the worst fish kills in Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s records. More than 5 million fish, crab, shrimp and other marine life were killed around the coast and speckled trout, redfish and drum populations took years to recover. Many people ignored the warnings from the health department and TPWD, and scooped up the cold-stunned or frozen fish that washed up on the beaches of Corpus Christi Bay, and along the Laguna Madre and Baffin Bay.
Nueces County insurance adjusters reported tons of water damage claims from ruptured pipes, from $200 up to $12,000. The Texas Department of Insurance estimated more than $1 billion in damages around the state. And one iconic Coastal Bend feature also suffered during the freeze: about 1,400 palm trees around the city were reported killed.
Anecdotally, the 1989 freeze was hardest on pipes around the city. Many people left town for the Christmas weekend and returned to burst pipes in ceilings, flooding homes as the frozen pipes warmed back up.
“We had people who came home to find two inches of water on their living room floor, which was covered by collapsed ceiling,” J.J. Jaramillo of Gentry Plumbing and Heating told the Caller-Times that year. “I guess 80 percent of our calls came from people with burst water lines in their attics.”
The National Weather Service in Corpus Christi has also compiled some other significant winter weather events in a list on their website, and again the 1980s pop up several times in the list. Arctic blasts in January and February 1982, January 1985 and February 1989 all featured significant icing and closing of bridges, freeways and highways around the Coastal Bend.
But these frigid temperatures still pale in comparison to the coldest day in Corpus Christi’s records: 11 degrees on Feb. 12, 1899. So I guess I can count my blessings and be glad I’m not trying to cope with freezes and 19th century technology at the same time.
Allison Ehrlich writes about things to do in South Texas and has a weekly Throwback Thursday column on local history. Support local coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe