The history of snow in Nashville

From dustings to blizzards, here are some snowtable fast facts about Nashville’s history with snow days.

Snow covering ground at Bicentennial Park with the Nashville skyline in the background

There’s snow place like Nashville — like when a blanket of snow covered the city in late January 2010. | Photo by Kim Unertl via Flickr

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A strong cold front moving through Tennessee on Friday is bringing a chance of snow with it next week, according to the National Weather Service.

While NWS Nashville says it’s too early to talk amounts and that the forecast will likely change, we couldn’t help reminiscing on snowstorms that brought Nashville to a wintry standstill over the past 130+ years.

Snow stats

Data from the National Weather Service shows that Nashville typically sees its first snowfall in late December any given year. The average first “snow event” (when at least 0.1 inches of snow falls) is Dec. 23 — as we know, that didn’t happen in 2023. The earliest the city saw snow was October 31, 1993, and the latest April 10, 1973.

Nashville’s largest snowfall

Nashvillians dreaming of a snowy Christmas in 1891 were in for a big surprise the following St. Patrick’s Day. After a mere 0.3 inches of snowfall all winter, Nashville received the largest snowfall in its history — 17 inches — on March 17, 1892. Fun fact: The record still stands today.

Curious how a snowstorm of this magnitude impacted 19th century Nashville? Street cars were “snowed under” and did not run + morning trains and mail service were delayed. Telephone lines remained unharmed, as workers were sent to remove accumulated snow from rooftops.

Other notable snow storms occurred in February 1929 (15 inches), January 1951 and 1964 (10 inches), and February 1886 (9.8 inches).

If you think a few inches of snow is disruptive to Nashville life today, can you imagine what nearly 39 inches would do? That’s how much snow fell in the winter of 1959-1960.

Belmont Mansion at Belmont University covered in snow.

Belmont Mansion covered in snow in February 2021. | Photo by @i_am_payton_tabb

Answered

We asked our readers to reminisce on snows of Nashville’s past. If you’re like us, these five stories will make you want to go outside and hop on a sled, build a snowman, or round up the neighborhood for a snowball fight.

“My senior year at Belmont, I lived on campus and we had a huge snow (either 2015 or 2016). A bunch of us walked down to Sevier Park and there were so many people sledding it looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. I’ll never forget it. Then, we all got to walk down 12th in the snow and stop at Frothy to warm up with some coffee. Campus was fun, too — full of snowmen and things written in the snow by cheeky college students!” — Haley C.

“I was in elementary school in the early 90s and we had the best snow/ice storm that hit. Our power was out, but we didn’t care. It was so much fun for us kids walking around the neighborhood and sledding around on trash can tops. Best snow break ever!” — Tyanna N.

“Not so much snow, but about forty years ago we had temperatures of minus 20 degrees. Killed most of the Boxwoods in Nashville.” — Charles S.

“1970 to 1980 We grew up in South Nashville, Harding Place, and the Nolensville Road/ Paragon Mills area. Our “go to” sledding hill was at the Paragon Mills Church of Christ. The entire neighborhood would be there. At that time, there were so many families and children in that area, and we all knew one another. We used garbage can lids, plastic discs, sleds, frankly anything that would slide. We would cover our feet in plastic bread bags or plastic newspaper covers, then a layer of socks and repeat until we had some real insulation from the cold. The trick to sledding on that hill was to make sure you stopped before sledding into Mill Creek at the bottom. We would pile up to three or four kids per sled and were sure to lose one or two on the way down. When we got too cold or too wet, we would trudge home, throw our wet clothes into the dryer, warm up, and go back!” — Jennifer B.

“I am surprised that you didn’t mention the last of December 1976 and into January 1977. I had my son on the 30th and all of the labor and delivery doctors had to stay at the hospital because it snowed and snowed and snowed. The kids were out of school the whole month of January. Percy Priest Lake froze over and people were driving cars over the ice. The first outing for me and the baby was getting in the car and going over to watch the crazy people!” — Nancy S.

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