The Memphis Ice Storm of 1994

Seeing 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?

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