As you prepare for your vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains we want you to come prepared for the different types of weather you may encounter during your stay. The weather here can change quickly, so it is always best to be prepared for all weather types so you are not caught by surprise.
During the months of October through April it can snow, rain, freezing rain, or sleet. Snow and ice are most common during the months of December through February. However, any of the months I mentioned above can have winter precipitation. Gatlinburg in the valley does not average very much snow per season. The average annual snowfall in the Gatlinburg valley is about 6-9 inches per year. This is comprised of multiple smaller snowfalls and add up to this total over an entire season. Larger snowstorms do occur, but not that often.
Many of the mountain roads leading to cabins are not treated very well in winter conditions. Luckily, all of our cabins are located in areas that do receive snow plow treatment and salting when winter weather hits. However, this treatment of roads can be delayed by 1 to 2 days depending on how bad the storm is. Most of the rental cabins in and around Gatlinburg are located below 3000 feet in elevation and heavy snows are not as common. Once you get into the national park at the elevations above 3000 feet you start seeing heavier snow and ice accumulations.
Important Be Prepared!
If you are traveling to the area and the weather forecast is giving the possibility of winter weather we suggest you stock up with enough supplies before your arrival at our cabin just in case you end up getting snowed in for a day or two. This is extremely rare to happen, but it has happened a handful of times to guests in the past, but it is worth mentioning. When there is the possibility of snow we do recommend that you bring a winter survival kit in case you become stranded on a roadway. We also highly recommend you bring snow chains for the mountain roads in case we have winter weather in the forecast. Snow chains can be purchased online if you do not have a store in your local area that provides them. Some roads cannot be driven safely in winter weather unless you have snow chains on your vehicle.
The weatherman in the area have a very difficult time predicting the amounts of ice and snow we will have, and many times they will not be calling for very much snow and we will end up getting much more than they expected. The weather in the mountains is highly unpredictable. A lot of our northern guests will see that the weather forecast might only be calling for a few inches of snow, which is is usually not a big deal in a state like Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania. However, you are coming to the southern state of Tennessee where less than an inch of snow will cause total and absolute chaos!
Snowfall is much less likely to impact your travel to your cabin. Snowfall is usually much lighter in the residential areas. The city and county do their best to salt and plow all roads to lessen the impact on travel. We can never guarantee a snowstorm will not impact your visit, but the odds are in your favor that the heaviest snow will remain in the highest elevations of the national park.
Elevations Above 3,000 Feet
The higher elevations of the area receive much more snowfall than the valley of Gatlinburg. Mt LeConte, at over 6,500 feet high, averages over 60 inches of snowfall in a season. Snowfall totals increase greatly with a rise in elevation. It is quite common for highway 441 going across the mountains from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC to be closed for snow and ice during the winter months. This is the main road through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It reaches its highest point at the Newfound Gap lookout, which is about a mile high in elevation.
Winds can be quite strong at times in Gatlinburg. The winds will sometimes increase in velocity as they come down the adjacent mountain range. It is very common to see gusty winds of over 30 mph. It is also not out of the ordinary to have high wind warnings issued for the area from time to time. During high wind warnings winds can reach up to hurricane force in short duration gusts. These are most common in areas with high mountains nearby.
The temperatures in the Smoky Mountains will vary greatly by the elevation in which you are located. During the winter months the daytime temperatures in the valley of Gatlinburg average in the 30’s through 50’s. There will be a few days each winter the temperature may not go above freezing. You may also have a few days during the winter that get into the 60’s and 70’s. Summertime temperatures will be hot and humid. 80’s and 90’s are the story for most of the Summer. Spring and Fall are transitional months and the temperatures can do all of the above, but the averages are usually somewhere in between.
Temperatures are much cooler as you increase in elevation. Plan on losing 3 to 4 degrees for every 1,000 feet in elevation rise as you go up into the mountains. The temperature in the city of Gatlinburg may be 90 degrees in July where the valley elevation is approximately 1,300 feet. However, if you drive 10 miles up to Newfound Gap which is a mile high in elevation the temperature may be around 75 degrees. be prepared depending on the time of year you travel as the mountains will be much colder as you go up higher and higher.
The great Smoky Mountains is one of the most diverse rainforests in the world. Rainfall in the valley of Galinburg averages about 55 inches per year. The higher elevations surrounding Gatlinburg will average over 85 inches of rainfall per year. Rainfall and thunderstorms are common in the Spring through Fall, however they can occur year round. Heavy rains and flash flooding do occasionally occur, so be sure to bring your raingear in case it rains!
I hope this has given you and idea of the weather in the area. Weather here changes quickly and can be unpredictable. When you travel to the area it is best to be prepared than caught off-guard. We hope you enjoy your time in the mountains and will make this a place you return to year after year!