Music City knows how to party — until the snow starts to fall


Icicles hang from a railing over a highway overpass in the metro Nashville area on Tuesday. (Photo by Jae Lee/The Tennessean)

Nashville is in the middle of an historic winter storm. Now, having said that you might think it’s something of Boston proportions.

You’d be wrong.

Nashvillians are in a tizzy over some ice and a little bit of snow. By a little bit I mean about ¼ inch of ice. In the places I’ve lived — Iowa, Chicago, upstate New York and even Missouri — this is not that big of a deal. But Nashville never gets weather like this so they simple don’t have the equipment or the practice to deal with it. And they have hills here — because they didn’t have to think much about how they were going to navigate those hills when they were snow- or ice-covered. Most of the homes here don’t have garages. They don’t have shovels. And they don’t have ice scrapers for the car.

Here’s a little more perspective on Nashville’s winter weather:

  • From 1981 to 2010, the Nashville area received an average of 6.1 inches of snow each winter.
  • The region hasn’t even seen that much snow in four years combined.
  • The biggest single snowfall was 17 inches on March 17, 1892 (we got 16 inches in Columbia, Missouri, just a few years ago.)
  • The largest snowfall of this century was 7 inches on Jan. 16, 2003.

One of the good sides of all of this is that they are scared to drive in this and they stay home, getting out of my way as I head in to work. I was able to buzz down the interstate and a steady 45 mph, leaving people in my wake. (Yes, I know how cocky that sounds.) One of the down sides is they are scared to drive in this so those who are out are going about 20 mph on that same interstate.

You'd never catch me using my circular saw to chip away at the ice. I own a shovel.  (Photo by Jae Lee/The Tennessean)

You’d never catch me using my circular saw to chip away at the ice. I own a shovel. (Photo by Jae Lee/The Tennessean)

It’s also a great opportunity for residents of the Volunteer state to volunteer and be good Samaritans. Yesterday I helped my neighbor scrape the ice from his minivan because all he had to use was one of those old-time wooden folding rulers. He was very grateful for the help. Unfortunately, a pair of good Samaritans were killed yesterday. But please don’t let that stop you from helping your neighbor.

Many were already off for the Presidents Day holiday then they got a bonus day today. Now, because bitter cold weather is predicted for Thursday, many schools have closed for the rest of the week. (Yes, you read that correctly — it’s Tuesday and they have closed for the rest of the week.)

But it’s a great time for sledders and photographers of all types. The Tennessean photo staff has been cranking out the pictures and those home-bound viewers are taking advantage of our website being free until we can start delivering again. We’re also posting pictures from our readers — they’re getting a kick out of this unusual weather and want to document it as much as possible.

Speaking of delivering, calls about undelivered papers have been flowing to the newsroom instead of circulation. Today I handled a couple of those calls, including one from a sweet-sounding older woman. She said she’s been a subscriber for 30 years and didn’t get her paper yesterday or today. Something about this call tugged at my heart so I took down her address (but forgetting to get her name or phone number.) I scrambled around to find the two newspapers and went so far as to sign up for Uber to have them delivered. I didn’t get to deliver them, but we did get those papers to her. The Tennessean — like many American newspapers — has some very loyal print subscribers.

Well, I gotta go. Another aspect of Nashville homes is that they aren’t well-insulated for winter weather. I’ve got to go turn on a faucet so that my pipes don’t freeze tonight.

I hope you enjoyed these photos by Tennessean staff photojournalist Jae Lee.

Stay warm, my friends.



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