The great snowfall of Monterrey

In his book, author Daniel Gallardo describes the recorded snowfalls that Monterrey has had throughout its history. These images are collected in his book La gran nevada de Monterrey. January 9, 1967, recently published by the Autonomous University of Nuevo León

The great snowfall of Monterrey
Monterrey's great snowfall. Photo by Jessica Fadel / Unsplash

On the night of Sunday, January 8, 1967, with the mercury at a low and warned of the probability of snowfall from Chihuahua to Tamaulipas, the people of Monterrey expected to start their week's activities on Monday, January 9. But at three o'clock in the morning -in some areas it began at 2:30 in the morning- while they were sleeping, the city began to be covered with a white blanket when a snowfall began that unusually lasted at least eight to twelve hours more, with such intensity that the snow reached a height of sixty centimeters in the northern neighborhoods of the city and thirty in the downtown area.

Despite the picturesque panorama, the weight of the snow caused collapsed roofs on tin and cardboard houses, collapsed trees, blocked streets, closed highways, suspended flights, interrupted work, fractures caused by ice slides, and a score of crashes. All public services were disrupted by the snowfall until four o'clock in the afternoon. One of the people most closely linked to the history of the city, Mr. José P. Saldaña, a keen historian, considers this to be the most intense snowfall in the 20th century in living memory. In previous years there have been recorded phenomena of that category but none like that morning of January 9, 1967. The heaviest snowfalls that the city has suffered were in the years 1895, 1925, and 1949, but the snowfall of 1967 surpassed the one of 1895 that had been the biggest.

This snowfall cut off Nuevo León, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas, and both the highlands and areas of the northern part of the country -from Ciudad Juárez to Reynosa- were covered by snow, which in some places reached levels of up to seventy centimeters, and weather forecasts predicted the continuity of the cold spell.

Bus services were suspended shortly after four o'clock in the morning after the snow began to fall, and by seven o'clock in the morning, the Highway Police had closed all highways converging to this city. Flights were suspended and classes were temporarily closed in schools and study centers until the effects of this cold wave had passed. Early in the morning, the authorities put into operation the moto-conformation equipment and hired private companies to clear the streets of snow, giving preference to those that connected the neighborhoods.

By eight o'clock in the morning, the city was completely covered with snow, and only 10 percent of urban transport had been in operation. The circulation of vehicles in the city was seriously affected, and it can be said that more than 50 percent of cars and trucks were not put in motion, some because they had difficulty starting, others to avoid mishaps due to the slipperiness of the pavement because of the snow.

Five families were reported, a total of twenty people, including adults and children, who came to seek help because their wooden houses made of tin or cardboard roofs had collapsed under the weight of the snow; they were provided with warm food, coats, and shelter from the snow and the freezing wind. More than 45 people were rescued from freezing to death from the streets of the city.

The wonderful spectacle provided by the snowfall caused photography and film enthusiasts to virtually empty the stocks in specialized establishments. From early in the morning the demand for rolls of film for taking photographs in all formats, 120, 126, 35, 4x5 plates, and even 8x10, in color and already sold out of the color film, black and white film was sold out, as well as rolls of film for 8, super 8 and 16 mm cinema.

By the afternoon it was difficult to get both photographic and film rolls... everyone wanted to keep a souvenir of the spectacle, rarely seen in Monterrey, defying the polar cold.

The book La gran nevada de Monterrey. January 9, 1967, is available at the Casa del Libro de la UANL.