Big Ice Storm Was 50 Years Ago This Month

Saturday, March 6, 2010 - by John Shearer
Signal Mountain during 1960 ice storm
Signal Mountain during 1960 ice storm
- photo by Bicentennial Library

Fifty years ago this month, an unusual event – the 1960 ice storm – resulted in some unique memories as well for Chattanoogans.

People living on Lookout and Signal mountains at the time have not likely forgotten the storm, and current residents who experienced the bad wintry conditions of 2010 can certainly better understand why it was so unforgettable.

With power outages, damaged trees and homes, and blocked roads, the 1960 storm was certainly a major hassle throughout Chattanooga.

In contrast to most modern winter storms, this ice blizzard came in almost unexpectedly, even though the winter of 1959-60 had already seen plenty of snowfall, and five more inches would fall a week after the storm.

According to the weather reports found in old Chattanooga newspapers, the forecast for Wednesday, March 2, called for rain with a possibility of snow, sleet and ice. The high was supposed to reach 40 degrees, and not much accumulation was expected.

A little snow and sleet were found on the ground that day, and a write-up in the afternoon Chattanooga News-Free Press described the scene as beautiful.

Unfortunately, the scene quickly went from pretty to ugly.

In what was considered an unusual meteorological happening, the upper atmosphere was much warmer than the lower, causing the rain that was freely falling to turn into ice by the time it collected on the ground – and on all the trees and power poles. Winds of about 17 miles an hour were also causing problems.

After the precipitation had done its trick, the falling temperatures continued inflicting trouble. The low on March 3 was zero degrees, and the wind began howling even more strongly.

As a result, trees and telephone poles fell, and Lookout Mountain heard more cracks and pops than anytime since the Civil War battle.

The next day was hardly warmer.

Not only were the mountains virtually powerless, so was much of the rest of Chattanooga. Tennessee Governor Buford Ellington called in the National Guard to assist in the disaster, and utility crews began working to restore power. Almost a week would pass before power would be restored to even half the homes.

With no electrical power, many Chattanoogans had to resort to will power.

Some residents spent several nights in such hotels as the Read House and headed up on the mountains during the daylight hours to check on their homes or clean off the fallen trees.

A few people even tried to stay in their mountain homes and tough the situation out using fireplaces or kerosene heaters.

Despite the challenges to certain senses as people scrambled to find warmth, the situation was still quite a treat visually, as the area took on the look of a winter wonderland.

When the storm first arrived, many thought it was the worst storm since one in 1905, but within a few days, the 1960 one was described as being worse, even though no one fortunately died.

The problems would persist long after the ice melted and the power was restored, as arborists were predicting that 40 years would be required to replenish the mountains with equally mature trees.

It was a storm that would not easily be forgotten – even 50 years later.

Jcshearer2@comcast.net



West Village To Host Family-Friendly New Year's Eve Festival

Families are invited to a New Year’s Eve festival in Chattanooga’s newly-revitalized West Village area between MLK and 7th on Chestnut and Pine near the base of the just-opened Westin Hotel. Lights are twinkling and the spirit of the street is changing as the West Village brings a European-style experience to Chattanooga families, said officials. Beginning at 6 p.m. on Sunday, ... (click for more)

McKamey Animal Center To Hold 12-Hour Adoption Event On Friday

Home for the Holidays or Bust! That is the mantra of the staff and volunteers of local animal shelter McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga. Volunteers and staff members are gearing up to help as many animals as possible find a home for the holidays. Shelter staff and volunteers will be staying for a "Holiday All-Nighter" at the shelter on  Friday, from noon until midnight ... (click for more)

Sheriff's Office Investigating Shooting On Ridgestone Drive At Ooltewah

Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the  7200 block of Ridgestone Drive in Ooltewah early Saturday on a call  of a person who had been shot.   The incident happened around 3 a.m.   T he injured person was transported to an area hospital with a non-life threatening injury.  The facts surrounding the shooting ... (click for more)

Get Emailed Headlines From Chattanoogan.com; Like Us On Facebook, Twitter For Instant News

We send out headlines each day of the latest Chattanooga news.  Our news headlines have links that take you to the stories with a click. We also send out special emails if there is a highly significant local news story breaking so you will be aware of it quickly. To be added to the email headline list, just email us at news@chattanoogan.com In addition, like ... (click for more)

The Growing Monopoly

Over the last decade, five tech giants have risen to the top, and created, discovered and invented services and products that have made these companies worth billions today. Those five, of course, are Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google. Each of these companies are responsible for several products and services that we use in our everyday lives. They have devoured the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

This week, as two men greeted one another at the steps leading to a holiday party, one said, “My wife is angel,” this in keeping with the season. The other replied, “You’re lucky … mine is still alive.” Once inside, the two walked into this conversation – “We had a power outage at our house this morning. So, my PC, laptop, TV, DVD, iPad and new surround sound music system were ... (click for more)