A rare snow day for Austin residents

APPROACHING+THE+JUMP%3A+Nicholas+Wood+prepares+to+launch+off+the+ramp+while+sledding+down+the+frozen+slope+in+the+nearby+water+reservoir.+He%E2%80%99s+determined+to+achieve+maximum+airtime+for+an+epic+slow+mo+shot+before+the+plastic+sled+becomes+too+damaged+to+be+usable.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Wood

APPROACHING THE JUMP: Nicholas Wood prepares to launch off the ramp while sledding down the frozen slope in the nearby water reservoir. He’s determined to achieve maximum airtime for an epic slow mo shot before the plastic sled becomes too damaged to be usable.

By Max Muzny, James Bowie High School

Despite the blackouts and pipe bursts caused by the cold, the residents in Austin were able to experience an authentic snowy winter right at their front door for the first time in decades.

On Presidents’ Day morning, freshman Nicholas Wood awoke to the miraculous spectacle of 6 inch deep snow covering streets, driveways, and lawns as far as the eye could see.

“Everything was white and bright,” Wood said. “The street looked like a pool of snow that seemed deeper than it actually was.”

Further down the street, freshman Ian Padilla was even more excited since he had previously never experienced a snow day before this year, let alone one in the middle of Texas.

“I wanted to do the casual activities you see on TV when there’s a snow day,” Padilla said. “I made snowmen in my backyard and also made a snow angel, but for some reason I did it in the middle of the street.”

The typical snow activities were just the beginning of the fun, however. Padilla, Wood, and a few of their neighbors ventured into a massive water reservoir behind Padilla’s house.

“We did the craziest possible things and had so much fun back there,” Padilla said.

One of the interesting phenomenons they discovered was a shallow body of water with a layer of ice completely frozen over the top.

“We tried seeing how thick [the ice] was and if we could walk on it, but it was only about half an inch thin and couldn’t support us at all,” Wood said.

Padilla was somewhat disappointed about how thin it was and wished there had been more ice. 

“I thought that puddles froze into big, solid blocks of ice until I threw a large rock in there and it broke,” Padilla said. 

Conveniently, there was also a steep concrete slope covered in ice and snow with a ramp at the bottom, a perfect setup to go sledding with Wood’s sled.

“We took turns going up to the top of the slope and tried to get as much speed as we could,” Wood said. “We also tried to get cool videos of us going off [the ramp].”

However, the sled was made of cheap plastic and began slowly chipping apart from the stress of impacting the ground after the ramp. This didn’t this didn’t stop them from using it anyways.

“It took many attempts till we finally got the ramp set up correctly, but after more runs it eventually broke,” Padilla said. “I had gone sledding before, so it was still really fun while we could.”

After totaling the plastic vehicle, the neighbors decided to spend some time throwing a football around the reservoir, though it was a bit tricky while wearing numerous layers for warmth.

“There was some enjoyment doing something I’m normally used to but slightly different since I could slip in the snow,” Padilla said. “The ball did almost get lost in the snow though.”

There was so much snow that something was bound to disappear, and while the football was luckily found quickly, the same couldn’t be said about Wood’s phone.

“I lost my phone for about a day, and then after it snowed, me and my mom went on a walk,” Wood said. “Right as we got onto the street, I looked down and found it there frozen in the snow.”

Padilla was glad that they were under a blue sky rather than a layer of falling snowflakes like the snow day a few weeks prior. 

“Whenever there’s snow falling, it gets in the way and in my face during normal activities and can be a bit annoying,” Padilla said.

Unfortunately, Wood’s brother, sophomore Nathan Wood, missed the snow since he was playing volleyball out of state.

“It sucks that Nathan wasn’t here both times it snowed, but he said he had fun in DC and Pennsylvania during his tournaments,” Nicholas said.

Ultimately, a massive blanket of snow in the heart of Texas is a once in a lifetime novelty, one that will be a staple of Padilla’s childhood for years to come.

“[The snow day] is likely going to be the only time for a long while I’m going to experience snow, and I think this is going to be one of the best experiences in my life because it was really fun,” Padilla said.

This story was originally published on The Dispatch on February 24, 2021.