Nashville February 12, 2017
A Massive Blizzard Blanketed Nashville In Snow In 1951 And It Will Never Be Forgotten
Nashville is known for its temperate weather and enjoyable atmosphere, but every once in awhile we get hit hard with a deluge of snow and ice that buries the city. Although many of us remember the Snowpocalypse of 2015 and the ice storms of 2016, what about the massive blizzard that blanketed Nashville in 1951? Those that remember are few and far between – so we decided to investigate.
It was Sunday, January 28, 1951, that it began to snow. No one realized the intensity with which it would snow, or the coming dread of the next few days. Residents ran to the store and stocked up on bread and milk, readying their home for a bit of quiet as the storm raged outside - it wasn't that easy.
By the next morning the city was completely covered in ice. As many of you know, ice and snow are a WHOLE different ballgame, especially to those of us living in the temperate south. By Tuesday, January 30, 1951, there was a solid 1-inch coating of ice that blanketed the city.
It wasn't until Wednesday, however, January 31st, that the the whole city shut down. The big one blew in, and it blew in with a vengeance. Temperatures dropped drastically and fast, sleet swept across the city and turned to a solid sheet of snow.
Nashville didn't quite know how to deal with the intensity of the issue. This was no longer a simple problem of groceries and candles. No, the heavy winds fell trees and knocked down electric lines that were already heavy with ice. It threw the city into darkness, with many people and businesses losing power with no end in sight.
The entire city simply shut down. By February 1st, almost everyone was immobilized. Eight inches of solid ice and snow left even cars with chains buried and unable to move. The temperature read -1 degrees. No city buses were running, the airport closed and all schools. 16,000 homes were left without power and heat in the coldest bout of weather many Nashvillians had ever experienced.
By February 4th, there were 349 deaths resulting from the weather. Nashville was clocking in at 13 below zero, and nearby Bell Buckle at -22. The damage to property was estimated in the millions, although there hasn't been a hard number released. Memphis loaned fifteen buses to the tired, cold folks of Nashville, and the first few lanes cleared were located in West End, finally a moment of home for those home bound. The only other blizzard in Tennessee that rivals 1951 took place in 1899 - and none since.
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