Nearly a weeklong spell of well below normal temperatures, accompanied by snow, ice, and high winds have resulted in at least 25 deaths and the loss of various public services, like power and water, across Tennessee.
“The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) has confirmed 19 people have died in the Volunteer State as a result of this week’s winter storm,” reported Nashville’s WKRN. “Five of the 19 deaths were reported in Middle Tennessee — one in Hickman County, one in Van Buren County, one in Henry County and two in Marshall County. The men in Marshall County died in two separate incidents but both possibly from hypothermia, officials said.”
One man died clearing snow from his roof when he fell through a skylight. By Sunday, January 21 the death toll for the winter storm in Tennessee had risen to 25.
Snow accumulated over a majority of the state during the week beginning January 14, with temperatures setting daily or near daily records in various locations. Below zero temperatures were not uncommon during the week..
“The TEMA Emergency Operations Center in Nashville is activated at a Level 4-Elevated to support local requests,” said WKRN. “On Wednesday, Jan. 17, TEMA Director Patrick C. Sheehan, on behalf of Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, declared a State of Emergency ….”
Nashville experienced sustained below freezing temperatures across multiple days, a city where the average high temperature for the month is 47℉ and the average low, 29℉. The week’s high and low temperatures were each more than 20 degrees lower than the average for the month.
“According to the Nashville office of the National Weather Service (NWS), Nashville’s temperature was -1 degrees, the coldest temperature the city reached since December 2022,” WKRN reported in its multiday coverage of the storm. “It was also only the second time in nearly 30 years Nashville’s temperature fell below zero.
“Additionally, the NWS says the high on Tuesday, Jan. 16 was only 19 degrees, marking two days of back-to-back highs below 20 degrees,” WKRN continued. “The high on Monday, Jan. 15, was just 17 degrees. The last time Nashville experienced back-to-back sub-20 degree highs was Feb. 3-4, 1996, the NWS said.”
The severe winter storm did not just affect travel across Tennessee, it has also disrupted the water supplies of a number of communities, according to WKRN.
“Several communities are now reporting water issues as a result of the winter storm that moved across Tennessee earlier this week,” said WKRN. “Leaders in various counties are now urging residents to conserve or take additional steps before consuming the water.”
The towns of Pulaski, Gallatin, Franklin, and Summertown, all reported water lines bursting due to the cold weather, which caused attendant hazardous conditions on the roads. Other communities across middle-Tennessee issued boil water notices and requested that residents reduce their water use to the extent possible, due to low water pressure and declining levels of water supplies. Several communities began handing out bottled water to their residents.