Those waking Sunday morning with plans for cooking on the grill may have been unaware of the significance of a forecast of snow for Saturday night. Liberal has a history of getting snow between March 23 and 26 since the great blizzard of 1957. L&T photo/Larry Phillips
By LARRY PHILLIPS
• Leader & Times
Liberal may be cursed on March 23 and 26 when it comes to weather.
It seems to have started in the forecast on March 22, 1957:
The Southwest Daily Times reported in its Friday, March 22, 1957, edition, “A snowfall approximating blizzard conditions will follow yesterday’s gentle soaking rains. Up to four inches of snow is expected to fall in extreme western Kansas today and tonight.”
Of course, many longtime residents remember what happened over those two days in ’57 – it was a brutal blizzard that hit, killing people and livestock throughout the five state area.
By Sunday, the area was literally buried alive by a bruising blizzard.
The paper wasn’t published on Sunday during those days, but Monday’s edition carried headlines like, “Four men found dead in car near Hooker, Okla. after worst snow storm in this area in twenty-five years,” “Train is still stalled this side of Meade with 220 people aboard,” “Western Kansans find snow drifts 18-feet deep,”
A photograph showed National Guardsmen using a half-track to check abandoned vehicles up and down the highways in and out of Liberal.
Guess what the forecast was on Wednesday, March 25, 2009?
The National Weather Service in Dodge City has predicted a very strong winter storm for Southwest Kansas … the winter system should arrive late Thursday night … The beginning around 1 a.m. Friday, snow accumulation could be in the 4- to 12-inch range.
The bold headline in Friday’s edition shouted ‘THE BLIZZARD OF ’09 with a large photo of a road grader in near-zero visibility at 10 a.m. that day.
Sunday’s edition (March 29, 2009) had these headlines on the front page: “Digging Out,” “Liberal tries to return to normal after blizzard” and “Damage still being determined.”
Did anyone notice what Friday’s forecast for Saturday looked like – on March 21, 2014?
Saturday night: 20 percent chance of rain and snow before 1 a.m.
Sure enough, area residents awoke Sunday morning, March 23, to a gentle dusting of snow throughout the area.
Fortunately, it wasn’t a blizzard, but the pattern of snow falling during that fateful week in Liberal’s history was maintained.
Let’s see how many people are closely watching the weather forecast next year starting on March 22 though March 25.