Tennessee Winter Weather Awareness Week
Monday, November 18th - Friday, November 22nd 2013

Nashville 1951 Ice Storm
January 1951 "Great Blizzard" in Nashville

 Tennessee can experience significant winter weather--and now is the perfect time of the year to check your winter preparedness plans.

  • Make sure your NOAA Weather Radio has fresh batteries in it.
  • Make sure you have a means of receiving winter weather information, and be prepared in case you have no way to travel.
  • If you must travel in winter weather, be sure to have a Winter Weather Preparedness Kit in your vehicle.
    • An ideal Winter Weather Preparedness Kit should include the following:
      • A mobile phone (and charger), batteries, blankets, sleeping bags, a first aid kit, a knife, plenty of high calorie non-perishable food items, extra clothing, waterproof matches, sand or cat litter for traction, a shovel, a windshield scraper and brush, a tool kit, a tow rope, battery jumper cables, water containers, road maps and GPS equipment.

Tennessee Winter Weather Climatology

Winter weather across Tennessee can vary from year to year, with some winters seeing only light snow and ice amounts, but others requiring a yardstick to measure all the snow!  Winter storms may cause only short-lived travel problems, or create major impacts to travel, lives and property. Some of the more significant winter storms in Tennessee history include:

  • January 10 2011 Winter Storm: 8 to 12 inches of snow falls over parts of Giles, Lawrence and Marshall Counties.
  • January 2003 Winter Storm: A major snowstorm strikes the mid state, with Nashville reporting 7" of snow -- much more than was forecast -- becoming the city's biggest snowfall in nearly 7 years. The snow begins falling around 8:00 a.m., and by mid-day the city is paralyzed with blocked interstates, numerous accidents, and large-scale gridlock.
  • March 1993 "Storm of the Century": Storm of the Century brings heavy snow to the Cumberland Plateau. Crossville sets a station record with an 18" accumulation. Allardt sets its own one-day snowfall record, with 14.1", as well as Winchester, with 10½".
  • January 1988 Winter Storm: A snowstorm brings widespread accumulation to the mid state. Some snowfall totals include Lawrenceburg, with 10", Nashville, 8.1", and Crossville, 6".
  • January 1918 New Year's Storm:  Dickson receives its greatest snowstorm ever, with an accumulation of 15".

Not only does Tennessee experience significant snow and ice storms during the winter season - severe weather, including tornadoes and flooding, remain a serious threat as well. In fact, winter and nighttime tornadoes pose the greatest risk to lives and propertyRemember to check your severe weather preparedness plans in addition to your winter weather preparedness plans!

Some notable winter season severe weather and heavy rain events include:

  • February 29 2012 Tornadoes - 1 person is killed in DeKalb County and 2 people are killed in Cumberland County when a supercell thunderstorm spawns 3 tornadoes across eastern Middle Tennessee. This was part of a large outbreak of tornadoes that stretched from Kansas to Kentucky, including an EF2 Tornado that damaged downtown Branson, Missouri, and an EF4 Tornado that devastated Harrisburg, Illinois.
  • February 5 2008 Tornadoes: One of the worst tornado outbreaks in Middle Tennessee strikes during the evening and early morning of the 6th. Fifteen tornadoes touch down across the mid state, including an EF-3 that kills 22 persons in Sumner, Trousdale, and Macon Counties -- the deadliest single tornado in Middle Tennessee in nearly 75 years. This is the 5th largest tornado outbreak in mid state history.
  • January 22 1999 Tornadoes:  Clarksville is struck by an F3 tornado before dawn. Five persons are injured. A F3 tornado also strikes Benton County, killing 1 and injuring 5. Mount Pleasant (1 N) measures 7.10" of rainfall -- its greatest one-day rainfall ever.
  • March 1997 Flood: The Red River is out of its banks due to heavy rainfall. Local law enforcement reports 4 to 6 feet of water in the Belmont Subdivision near Clarksville. Sixty homes are affected by flooding in Montgomery County. A cooperative weather observer in Clarksville reports about 5.25" of rain between March 1 and March 3.
  • January 24 1997 Tornadoes: A rare winter severe weather outbreak results in 12 tornadoes across Middle Tennessee, injuring 31 persons and causing damage in excess of $9 million. Amazingly, there are no fatalities. Barfield, near Murfreesboro, is hit by an F4 Tornado. This is the 7th largest tornado outbreak in mid state history.
  • February 1880 Heavy Rainfall: Nashville records greatest one-day rainfall for February, with 5.20". This caps off a three-day total of 7.65", another Nashville record.
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