Worst Storms In Recent Memory – Kelly Klaas’ Top 5
The Magic Valley area is one of those places where bad storms don’t often visit. But when they do, they are something to remember. Here are my top 5.
These days it seems like having a “snow day” from school is somewhat commonplace. Starting in the fall of 1957 and all the way through my twelve years of K-12 school we had only one snow day. It was the winter of 1970. I was a senior at Twin Falls High School. As I said, snow days were practically non-existent. But on this day the snow fell and the wind blew. Snow was piled up in places that had never seen snow before. School was cancelled. Roads were closed. It was a mess. I remember my dad was somewhat upset because the milk man (yes, that was back in the day when we still had home-delivered milk) didn’t make it for his delivery. It took the plows until that afternoon to get us dug out on State Highway 74.
Consequently, it would be another ten years before a similar storm would hit the area. This storm, during the winter of 79-80, was similar in nature. We got snow and wind. That combination always spells trouble around these parts. The wind blew so much snow that our sorting lane in our corrals was filled up with snow. We had to take the tractor and loader and dig out the snow so we could load cattle. And as I remember it, the temperature dropped to about ten below zero and stayed there for about a week. That was a cold and miserable winter.
I remember a very destructive hail storm that hit on the first day of summer in 1979. I had a nice looking crop of contract beans and a small field of peas that were about thigh-high and looking excellent. After a mid-afternoon hail storm swept through the area the pea field looked like a steamroller had made several trips across the field. The bean field located nearby was also a total loss. I had never seen hail do that kind of damage before nor since. It is quite capable of wiping out an entire area in just a few minutes.
Another storm of note that I remember was during the summer of 1998. This, however, was a lightning storm. As I recall not a lot of rain fell but according to the U.S. Weather Bureau this cloud bank was one of the biggest and highest in the entire nation that night. The lightening began to strike all around our rural home. When it struck you could see all around just like the sun was out, yet this was a night. One particular lightning bolt was quite memorable. It ruined the modem in my computer, knocked a picture off the wall and popped the 220 volt breaker to our well. This had to be a near-direct hit. I never did figure out exactly where it struck but it was certainly close enough for me. It also popped a breaker at the neighbor’s home a quarter mile away.
It was Christmas of 2010 when we all met at our daughter’s place in Twin Falls to have dinner together as a family. And it was this same day the snow began to fall and the wind began to blow. Luckily, we had gone into town on the 4x4 Jeep Wrangler in case the weather turned bad. Later that day I headed home to see just how bad it was. I could not make it down our quarter-mile north-south lane because it was already drifted closed. I had to go through a neighbor’s field which got me to the fence next to our house. I was able to climb through the fence and make it to the house in good shape. However, my wife, who was suffering from a bad hip, would certainly not be able to make the short trip from the Jeep to the house so she spent the night at our daughter’s house. The next day was not much better but the wind wasn’t blowing quite as badly as the day before. I went back to town in the Jeep, loaded up my wife, and drove through the field again to the house. It took my son and me some time to get my wife, with her bad hip, through the barbed wire fence and to the house, but we did make it. That was our Christmas adventure for the year.