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.


Marie Smith said...

This is our third day of snow and blowing snow. We are accustomed to this type of winter but I can see how snow would affect everything in your area. It looked so pretty in your photos.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

It is good you are indoors. Stay warm, cozy & safe!

DUTA said...

Nothing new under the sun- weather issues: cold, snow, ice. Only this time things are rather extreme, and that causes worry. Climate Change is moving fast, and we, people, seem to be quite helpless about it.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Seems like you had a wonderful trip to Africa, and the itinerary rekindles memories for me. Wish I had been with you on this jaunt. The snowy conditions were no doubt an initial shock when you returned, but you’ll quickly get used to it, and who knows, perhaps even appreciate it. Welcome home!

Jenn Jilks said...

A good time to hunker down indoors. Our east coast, Nova Scotia, has had 5' of snow!

DJan said...

We had an unusual snowfall in early January, but it was the extreme cold that made it so difficult. Our streets were finally cleared after a few days, but we had to wait for our driveway to clear naturally, which took a long time. I am so glad you were able to stay safe and warm during that awful period. Your pictures are sure wonderful, though! :-)

Jeanie said...

That would be a shock -- home from Africa to this. I recognized the "voices" of those who commented on how quiet it might be and also how here in the north the plows are out right away. You can see the salt trucks before it's even icy. We're just so used to it and this year we had hardly any -- maybe a total of five inches overall. Of course, it's February, and although it will be 50 this week and next, here we trust no warm weather till April. (Even then you can get an ice storm!) Apart from a few days of very cold, it has been quite decent, just gray. Your snow looks beautiful and you may have had more than us!

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, Great snow photos! We took a bunch of related photos here in East Tennessee as well. Stuck in the house for a week with snow and icy roads. No mail and no trash pick up either... Its pretty but we'd gladly skip any further snow events this year. Sounds like a great trip to Africa, something I always wanted to do. I collect stamps (1970 or earlier) and I really like those from Ethiopia. I had a chance to work in South Africa many years but, based on the advice from an uncle who had spent many years there working for Coca Cola, I declined the offer. I would have accepted if it had been a US based company... Looking forward to posts from this trip! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Nadezda said...

It’s good that you were at home on such frosty and slippery days, Vagabonde. We are used to snow and cold here, but still I prefer warmth and sun. It's great that you went to South Africa. There must have been a lot of impressions.

Mae Travels said...

Great to hear that your long blog silence was due to a fabulous trip! I was a bit concerned at how long it had been since you posted, and now I have your Africa photos to look forward to. I hope the weather clears up very soon all over the country and you can go back to normal Southern life. The deep freeze also hit Michigan, but as you know, we have snow plows and gear. Nevertheless, I stayed in the house for weeks on end.
best, mae at

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