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City morphed into a ski resort
Teen memories, sports physical, skiing, snow storm

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Date published: 1/29/2013


ITS PATH WASN'T monitored via brightly colored computer models on 24/7 TV reports and websites.

It didn't have a fancy name.

But unlike some latter-day hyped-up no-show forecasts (think Jan. 17, when Iago failed to bring the predicted 7 inches to the area)--the snowfall of 1979 was the perfect storm, at least from a schoolchild's point of view.

The first dusting of fine flakes blew in on a Sunday afternoon, and by Monday morning 18 inches had fallen on the Fredericksburg region, closing schools and everything else.

"Drifts of up to five feet buried vehicles, blocked doorways and brought day-to-day activities to a screeching halt," The Free Lance-Star reported.

The accumulated snow even delayed newspaper delivery for a day, the first that had happened since the flood of 1942, when the power was out for two days.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, 1979, The Free Lance-Star published this front-page photo of Chris Danahy skiing on one of the snow-covered streets. In a touch of artistic whimsy, icicles clung to the newspaper's masthead.

According to the news account, the 18 inches of snow that had fallen throughout Sunday night had piled on top of the remains of two other snowfalls from the previous two weeks, making for an accumulation of nearly 30 inches during that time period.

Chris' mom, Peggy, who still lives in Fredericksburg, shared the clipping with the Flashback column.

She shared a second photo featuring Chris, commenting that she thought the medical focus of the photo was timely during the current flu season.

Chris wasn't worried about flu, though. Perfectly healthy, he was being checked out to play junior-varsity football at James Monroe High School.

The athletic boy grew into an athletic adult. A 1996 Free Lance-Star article featured his preparations for the Ironman World Championship Triathlon in Hawaii. The Ironman distance consisted of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike-ride and 26.2-mile run.

A graduate of James Monroe High School and the University of Richmond, Danahy lives in Richmond with his wife and son. He owns a restaurant, The Tavern at Triangle Park.

Jennifer Strobel: 540/374-5432
Email: jstrobel@freelancestar.com