The Christmas of 1983

My family in 1983 at a Christmas party on my mother's side of the family held before the cold arrived. I'm wearing a Levi Garrett hat that a certain “bird” gave me. We were good at pretending for the cameras.

The cold outbreak this Christmas is eerily similar to the one during Christmas 1983 when I was ten years old. It is near certain 1983 will remain colder than the Christmas of 2022. We survived then without the fear mongering and media hype and we will survive again.


When the media misleads, hypes, uses hyperbole or blatantly lies then we end up with a populace that lives in fear, believes everything or believes nothing. The lack of trust that the media suffers is of their own doing for their fictions. Facts matter in news and weather reporting.


From the NOAA Library. The weather map for December 24, 1983.

The cold came on Christmas Eve in 1983 and I vividly remember it. The front passed through on the 24th with snow flurries, it was nothing more than car topping snow. The high in Dallas (Paulding County) National Weather Service Station was forty-once degrees and dropped steadily throughout the day to a low by midnight of thirteen degrees. 


My family was at the annual Vise Christmas party at my grandparents that evening and night. We went in my father's Cadillac, which was a diesel and the fuel had water in it. The fuel froze and it would not turn over from the frozen water so we walked home in the bitter cold. My father was irate and this messed up his plans for the holidays. He had to spend Christmas with his family, instead of doing what he had rather be doing.


From the NOAA Library. The weather map Christmas Day 1983.

On Christmas Day, it was colder as is the standard that the second day after a cold front is colder. Cold air is more dense and the molecules move at a slower rate than warm air. Also, as is standard on day two the wind relaxes allowing the atmosphere to stop mixing so the air molecules slow and cool. 


The high on Christmas day was sixteen degrees after a low of two degrees below zero. Our dogs, which were outside dogs, were brought into the house and stayed in our laundry room – so it was damn cold for that happen. My father still could not thaw out the Cadillac and fumed all day. He remained stuck with us. My house was on well water and the pump froze. My father thawed it with a hair dryer.

On December 26th, the high again was sixteen degrees after a low of one below zero. For the first time ever, the creek behind our house froze solid. We jumped on it, slid across it, tried to bust it with rocks, sticks and a shovel, but no luck – that thing was concrete. I was a kid and had to find a way to enjoy the unique weather. My father remained stranded with us.

On December 27th, the high was twenty-six degrees after a low of one below zero. The creek remained solid and even my father's temper could not thaw the Cadillac.


As with most severe cold outbreaks in The South, the cold can only sustain for two or three days before it warms. On December 28th, the high climbed to thirty-six degrees after a low of twenty-three degrees. The warming brought a mixed bag of weather with sleet, snow and rain. It was mostly rain, over two inches in Dallas. My father sensed freedom from his family, had the Cadillac running by noon and was gone faster than you can say Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer.

It will be a cold Christmas and I am not complaining about that. However, this is not "once in a generation cold." As I write this, it is sunny and sixteen degrees outside Whisper Hall. The wind is howling with gusts near thirty miles per hour and the windchill is at times, two below zero. It is cold, but what can be done about it? You can stay warm indoors and read a book or you can embrace it and go out and live life.