The Ice Storm That Completely Paralyzed Austin

In the early part of 1973, I believe it was January 8th – 10th, it begin to rain and the temperatures dipped into the teens in Austin where we lived, and all around Central Texas. During a two to three day period it was impossible for cars to drive. The vehicles were not equipped for it. The city, county and state governments were ill-prepared to handle those road conditions. Weather forecasting was a hit and miss proposition back in those days, so everyone was caught mostly off guard.

Almost everyone was forced to stay right where they were when it all began. There were several inches of icy on everything. Luckily we had power throughout the time. Some were not as fortunate. The news and weather people stayed at their positions the whole time and reported as best they could. They would show scenes of I-35 with literally no traffic at all on it.Long icicles hung from power lines and off of buildings.

About 3:00 AM on the third day we were startled awake. We lived in a mobile home just out of Oak Hill. It was the loudest bang you could imagine. It sounded like someone hit the side of the house with a sledge hammer. Every few minutes it happened again and again. Finally it stopped. The next morning I was able to determine that a power line on the rear of the property ran directly above our bedroom. As the temperatures started to rise above freezing in those early morning hours, the four foot long icicles that were attached to the power line started turning loose and dropping. There were still remnants of them laying around on the ground.

It continued to stay cold that day but we were finally able to get out and get to the Big Wheel Truck Stop. That was some of the best cafe style enchiladas I ever remember eating. I think I had two plates of them.


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