While the northeast and midwest are dealing with cold and freezing temps, we thought it might be nice to take a walk down Memory Lane, Las Vegas style, and remember when snow came to the Las Vegas Valley. My earliest memory of snow that actually stuck around enough that you could actually play in it was New Year's Day, 1974.
As 1973 turned into 1974, we hit the big time.
Back then, my friends and I used to go to movies on New Year's Eve. That evening we went to the old Red Rock Theaters to see The Sting. We hada great time and really enjoyed the film. The second film pairing of Paul Newman, Robert Redford and George Roy Hill was an absolute delight.
After the film, it was cold out as we bounded into Al's car (he was a year and half older than us and had a big, boat of a car (common back in those pre-oil crisis days). By the time we got to our next stop, it was even colder. As I got out of the car, I remember telling Al, "Do you think it will snow?". He laughed out loud.
We celebrated ringing in the New Year at Al's house, jitterbugging to the Andrew's Sisters (his mother was teaching us to dance- Today, Al is still a really good dancer and I'm not).
He ended up driving me back to my house probably about 1 in the morning. Again, I mentioned that it might snow and again, he laughed out loud (all these years later, he still does that).
When I woke up about nine that morning, I looked out bedroom window to see snow blanketing the ground. Snow, real honest to gosh snow. It was the first real snow we had had since we arrived in 1961. My family went to Mt. Charleston to play in the snow but now the snow had come to us.
The first think I did was pick up my princess phone (anyone remember those?) and called Al. When he answered, I laughed out loud.
My friend, Dennis McBride, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas, grew up in Boulder City and he shares his memory of those snow days:
Seems to me there was a lot more snow in the 1970s in southern Nevada than there has been in the last thirty-some years. One particularly great snow I remember and wrote about in my journals was the night of New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 1973-74.
I'd spent New Year's Eve with my friend, Dee Keys, in Boulder City and at midnight we went out to see what was going on. Not much in Boulder City. But it was absolutely clear, the stars were brilliant, the moon was high.
Went in to bed and awoke early the next morning with four inches of snow on the ground. Just three days later, Thursday, January 3, another snow storm hit the valley and left seven inches of snow. Dee and I had gone to a science fiction double bill at the El Portal--Zardoz and Soylent Green--and when we came out, Fremont Street and the cars parked along the curb were covered with snow.
One car cruised up and down Fremont with a snow man on its roof. Getting back to BC from Las Vegas, as I wrote in my journal, was "hairy. We could drive only 25-30 miles an hour and very nearly didn't make it out of the valley. The road disappeared and we drove in two tracks in the snow."
Another notable snow was February 14, 1979--here's a photograph of me standing on a bench in front of Frazier Hall at UNLV with the Flora Dungan Humanities building in the snowy background.
By 1979, I had decamped Las Vegas for Los Angeles (two years earlier) but my mother took pictures of the snow at our house on Edna Avenue. Somewhere in boxes, they await me pulling them out.
Old-timers talk about the snow in 1930 that blanketed Fremont Street and surrounding areas.
The biggest snowfall was on December 17, 2008. It broke the January 1, 1974 record and Las Vegans were treated to sights like this:
Snow in Las Vegas, not something you see very often.