The Memphis Ice Storm of 1994

by Joe Spake on January 30, 2010

1401314772 62d0df83b03 The Memphis Ice Storm of 1994Seeing the ice on the trees this morning reminds me of a morning in 1994, waking up to a series of muffled crackles and crunchs, not quite realizing at the time that the sounds were large tree limbs splitting and falling.  I don’t remember that is was very cold that morning, 30-31 degrees being optimal for ice storm conditions.

I was a network engineer at BellSouth at the time, and I got the call to come on into work, and plan on staying over if things got really bad, so I put a sleeping bag in the car, and picked my through the debris from East Memphis to my Midtown office.  Actually, the majority of trees had not fallen at that time; they continued to fall throughout the day as I attempted to ride the streets of my area of responsibility (Midtown and Downtown), not to attempt to restore telephone service, but to report hazardous conditions. And the trees kept falling. A huge one just missed me as I was talking to some folks on Snowden, near Rhodes.  We had to run to get out of the way. By noon, it was sunny and rather warm (above freezing) but the ice load was still working on the trees, power lines and telephone cables.  Most of the ice had melted by the end of the day.  By the time it was all over, the city looked like it had been bombed.  Many were without utilities for weeks.  Midtown was especially hard hit. The clean up seemed to go on forever.

I wasn’t doing too many photos back then, and I didn’t photograph anything during that day or the following day.  One memory that stands out is getting back home (very little damage to my trees)  after the ice was gone and finding pine needles standing in my yard in little holes.  Encrusted with ice they had fallen, driving themselves into the soft ground. As devastating as Hurricane Elvis was in 2004,  the ice storm was much more eerie, and I will never forget the slow, crackles of the limbs breaking away and falling.

Were you in Memphis in 1994?  What are your memories of the Ice Storm?

pixel The Memphis Ice Storm of 1994
 The Memphis Ice Storm of 1994

About 

Joe Spake is a Memphis-based Real Estate Broker and Consultant. He blogs at Joe Spake's Weblog and Memphis Real Estate Buzz. Joe's Social Network.

  • teresasimpson

    I was just telling my husband about the ice storm of 1994 (he is a transplant from Nashville). As I was telling him, the biggest thing that stands out in my mind was waking up to the sound of tree limbs crashing to the ground. It looked and sounded like a war zone. Very creepy…

  • http://memphisrealestatebuzz.com joespake

    I agree. The sound of breaking and falling trees was constant in my neighborhood. I will never forget the sound, piercing the morning silence.

  • Aurora

    I remember the storm well. I remember the wooden utility poles snapped like a match stick and metal poles bent like a paper clip. I live in the High Point Terrace neighborhood and we didn't have power for 14 days; however, I had floor furnaces which were a blessing. No TV or internet for 2 weeks! A utility crew from Knoxville worked in our neighborfhood. It took the city 3 months or longer to remove the limbs and brush from the curb.

  • Aurora

    I remember the storm well. I remember the wooden utility poles snapped like a match stick and metal poles bent like a paper clip. I live in the High Point Terrace neighborhood and we didn't have power for 14 days; however, I had floor furnaces which were a blessing. No TV or internet for 2 weeks! A utility crew from Knoxville worked in our neighborfhood. It took the city 3 months or longer to remove the limbs and brush from the curb.

  • D. A. Adams

    I lived in Midtown in 94, at the corner of Poplar and Clark Place. The freezing rain and sleet had fallen since about noon, and at my apartment, I can vividly remember the five or six inches of ice on the sidewalk. It was surreal. The limbs started breaking and the transformers started exploding at about 1:00 in the morning, I moved my car out on the street because our parking lot was being bombarded with limbs. The next morning a huge cedar had uprooted and just missed my car by a foot. You’re right, that next morning, the city looked like a war zone. My neighborhood was without power for 8 days, but luckily I had a gas stove so I could cook. I hope I never experience anything like that again. I’ve never been as cold as I was for first couple of nights without any heat.

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