Looking back at 1940, the year Lake Guntersville froze

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)– The year was 1940, and the Tennessee Valley was locked in a cold, snowy pattern. It was January, and Mother Nature was about to produce some extremely harsh winter weather.

Several rounds of heavy snow pummeled the region, with well over a foot of snow piling up by the end of the month. Records just down the road from Guntersville show a whopping 15 inches of snow fell in January 1940.

Good record keeping of variables like temperature and snowfall becomes harder to find the farther back in time you search. Observations at Cullman (St. Bernard Abbey) however, are quite reliable back to the early 1900s.

The combination of continued rounds of snow and bitterly cold temperatures caused Lake Guntersville to freeze over.

The thermometer fell below zero four times, and dropped as low as -16 on the morning of January 28. The temperature where Huntsville’s observations were kept in 1940 fell to seven degrees below zero, one of the coldest temperatures on record for the area.

The images in the gallery above are courtesy of J.D. Wall at Top O’ The River in Guntersville, showing a frozen Lake Guntersville in 1940.  The ice was so thick that Howard Powell Sr. drove his 1939 Studebaker American out on the lake.

Do you have a memory of that cold winter? An old family photograph you’d like to share? Please email photo@whnt.com— we’d love to hear from you.