Cold weather has chilling history

With near triple-digit temperatures expected the next few weeks, this seems a good time to remember the cold.

Our coldest day is quite debatable, but here are a few of the contenders:

• The weather.com website claims the coldest temperature recorded in Portales was minus-17 on Jan. 2, 1979. Clovis was only minus-7 that day, but also claims a record of minus-17, recorded on Feb. 1, 1951.

• More than 40 inches of snow fell across eastern New Mexico during the winter of 1911-12 — still a record, seldom challenged. Low temperatures in Clovis-Portales were below freezing 60 consecutive days that December-January.

• In January 1963, Clovis recorded eight nights in which the temperature never climbed above 1 degree.

• The Texas Panhandle generally claims Jan. 4, 1959, as its coldest day. Temperatures dropped to minus-22 degrees in Spearman, Texas, the coldest ever officially recorded in the region. Clovis was a balmy minus-4 degrees. The chill caused the city’s water main to burst that day in Sudan, Texas, leaving residents dry for several hours.

But my vote for coldest day(s) ever go to Dec. 9-10, 1923. Thermometers dropped only to 10 degrees, but a blizzard is blamed for at least eight regional deaths.

A 4-year-old boy and his 9-year-old brother froze in Friona, Texas, when they ventured into the storm in search of their mother who had traveled to a neighbor’s house.

Three Grady students froze walking home from school. A Clovis man froze in his unheated shack.

The other 1923 victims were Gladys Dancy and her 3-year-old daughter. They were traveling in a horse-drawn buggy between Hassell and Taiban west of Clovis when they were trapped by the storm. Their bodies were found a week after they disappeared, the buggy overturned, the child snuggled in her mother’s arms.

So if you can’t stand the heat, remember the cold.