Big Ice Storm Was 50 Years Ago This Month

Saturday, March 06, 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


Perry Perkins Endorsed By Chattanooga Fire Fighters

The Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association Local 820 has publicly endorsed Perry Perkins for County Commission District 7 in the Republican primary election.  "The Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association is pleased to announce our endorsement of Perry Perkins," said Jack Thompson, president of the Chattanooga Fire Fighters Association. "Perry's community service and experience ... (click for more)

Huey And Cobra Rides Delayed

Due to inclement weather in Atlanta the Huey and Cobra Rides being hosted by the Hixson Flight Museum will be delayed until Sunday at 1 p.m. There will be military vehicle and cockpit tours on Saturday. The rides will take place at the Hixson airport (Dallas Bay Skypark) 1824 E Crabtree Road.  The Museum of Flight provides tours and gives airplane rides in the vintage ... (click for more)

Man Shot On Cannon Avenue Early Saturday Morning

A man was shot early Saturday morning on Cannon Avenue. At approximately 5:30 a.m., Chattanooga Police responded to 2300 Cannon Ave. for shots fired.  Shortly after receiving the call, officers learned that a victim arrived at a local hospital.  The victim suffered a gunshot wound to the right leg and is undergoing treatment. The injury is not considered to be life-threatening.  ... (click for more)

Child Playing With Cigarette Lighter Starts $25,000 Mobile Home Fire

A child playing with a cigarette lighter started a mobile home fire on Saturday morning. At 9 a.m., the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a mobile home fire at 6561 Cassie Lane. It took four fire companies about 10 minutes to get the fire under control. The fire was contained to one bedroom. No injuries were reported. Damage to the home is around $25,000. (click for more)

When The City Was Silent

I don't know how to say this without getting my head handed back to me on a platter as is often the usual case. But at least I no longer receive the hateful (even threatening) emails and insults I became accustomed to. So I'll just bite and say it: I honestly don't see anything expressed by the NSM that hasn't been said locally on some level at one time or another, and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: God Could Use You…

In the spring of 1968, this just before pro golfer Billy Casper would win six tournaments that year and be the leading money winner on the tour, the wildly-popular “Buffalo Bill” was in Japan playing some off-season tournaments. He was asked if he would like to visit some American soldiers who had been seriously wounded and Casper, ever the gentleman, said of course. As he melted ... (click for more)