My Reminiscences of events, old and new, and travels, far and near
Monday, February 5, 2024
Snow and ice in Nashville, Tennessee
After my last trip to the North Georgia Mountains I was planning to write three blog posts: one on apple orchards in Ellijay, one on my trip up Fort Mountain State Park and one on Cherokee Chief Vann House Historical Site. So many photos were taken that my old laptop could not handle downloading them in a normal amount of time and, in addition, I was preparing my trip to Africa. I left for Addid Ababa, Ethiopia, in mid December, and then spent 10 days including Christmas in Cape Town, South Africa. After another week spent on a safari in Tanzania I was in Nairobi, Kenya for New Year. After another stop in Addis Ababa I returned to Nashville in early January (blog posts will follow when my laptop is set up.) Less than a week after my return to Nashville the weather turned very cold. It was a shock to the system to go from the mid to high 90 F (35C) in Tanzania to 7 to 10 F (-13 C and below) in Nashville, and below 0 F at night (-18 C.) Below is the view from my bedroom window when I got up on Monday January 15, 2024, next to the street view from behind my front room plantation shutters. (View in heading courtesy Parthenon Park, Nashville.)
It snowed non-stop that day, most of the following day, then it turned to ice. It did snow again several days later before the first snow had melted. In the South, winter season begins in October and ends in March. Data shows that in an average winter Nashville gets 4.7 inches of snow. From the night of January 14 to January 15 about 9 inches of snow fell in my backyard thus producing more snow that day than during an entire winter. This broke the previous 1944 record of 2.2 inches in one day. January 15, 2024, was very cold but it was just snow, ice had not formed yet. Some children, daring the cold, were sledding near the closed Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville. Not many people have sleds around here, so the children used cardboard boxes, laundry boxes, flat boards, etc. (Photo courtesy WSMV News.)
Painting below is "Snowday, 1948" by John Philip Falter, American, 1910-1982.
The sun came up a couple of days later; it was pretty, but still dangerously cold and icy.
No cars were driving by on my road and no one was walking either; everything stayed white and silent. Only birds gave signs of life.
There was no mail for a week, no deliveries of any type. I would have liked to walk around town and take pictures, but I could not walk outside. I had planned to drive to Georgia to make sure my house there was fine, but was "ice bound" for that week. I was fortunate that my neighbor helped me down my icy steps so I could drive to Georgia on Tuesday January 23rd, a week after the start of the snow. The steps were still covereed in ice, as well as my walkway.
No snow plow cleared out my street, which is a "boulevard" and in the center of Nashville. The city has just several snow plows, 15 years old. They ordered 37 new snow plows last year but as a result of supply chain problems they only received one of them. Crews were out trying to clear the roads but only the interstate highways, highways and large main roads were serviced. No side street, subdivision or small connecting or secondary roads were cleared; they remained iced over the whole week. At least traffic was sparse as you can see below from the Tennessean newspaper's photographs.
The top left photo is of I-65 just past Nashville toward Birmingham, Alabama. Interstate 65 (I-65) is a major north-south interstate highway connecting between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. Traffic on this highway is usually pretty steady. The bottom right photo shows runner Sam Skinner on a Brentwood road. Brentwood is about 15 minutes south of Nashville and is where my daughter and family live. Sam is a musician, a guitar player. One of the songs he composed is called "Cold." I wonder if he is from up north for running like this on an extremely cold arctic day? Actually, my daughter who went to Antarctica in 2022 told me that she had not been as cold there as it was in her backyard... Here she is below in Antarctica in 2022. The other two photos are from her backyard in Brentwood this January 19, a sunset photo and one of the frozen lake and golf course club house.
One of my neighbors who moved not long ago from the state of Wisconsin said it was so quiet and peaceful in Nashville when it snowed compared to northern states - no snow removing equipment, no electric snow blowers, no snow plow trucks, hardly any vehicles and no people walking. The snow stays clean and pure white. The City of Nashville gov. told us "Don't venture outdoors for fear of death" - adding that "One can die from hypothermia within one hour when exposed to temperatures below zero. Go out only in a true emergency" - no problem! Nobody was interested into venturing out and risking frostbites. Unfortunately 36 people still lost their lives and over 300 were injured in the state of Tennessee due to snow during that time. Some died of cold from being stranded in their cars or, of exposure after abandoning their vehicles and walking away but not equipped to fight the cold or snow. Antioch in photo below is a neighborhood of Nashville.
I read a blog from a lady in Chicago, Illinois, who moved to Tennessee. She wrote" "In Chicago, snow plows are out on the street as soon as it starts snowing. People put on their warm boots and give themselves an extra 15 minutes to go where they need to be. This is compared to Tennessee - everyone panics, "Snowday" is declared as soon as one snowflake falls from the sky, and they then hibernate until the dusting on the roads melts away." (Click on collage to enlarge.)
Some hearty souls did venture out as you can see from the photos above, courtesy the Nashville Metropolitan Police Dept. The top photo is a salt crew working near Vanderbilt University. The golf course and park were empty, though. Beautiful photos would have been easy to snap I'm sure, but I could only watch from my windows. Below is the sun going down from my back deck, and that was toward the end of the week (still a lot of snow...)
“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”
- Carl Reiner, American comedian, 1922-2020.
Beautiful painting above from Claude Monet, French painter and founder of impressionist painting, 1840-1926, entitled Snow Effect, a street in Argenteuil.