Tennessee, located in the southeastern US, experiences a humid subtropical climate. And with the word ‘tropical,’ the absence of snow comes to mind. So, does it snow in Tennessee?
Yes, it snows in Tennessee. However, the state only experiences mild winters and some snow dustings. Higher areas like the Appalachians get around 16 inches of snow each year, while regions like West Tennessee get 5 inches.
Tennessee experiences snow differently from one region to another, spread across varied months of the year. Read on to learn what types of weather await you in Tennessee, including areas of interest in case you’re planning a move to the state.
Weathers In Tennessee
In most parts of the state, summer (June to August) is hot (up to 88 degrees in July). Fall (September to November) is a bit refreshing (39 to 82 degrees). Tennessee’s winter (December to February) and spring (March to May) seasons, however, are generally mild (28 to 78 degrees), with May as the wettest month.
During these two mild seasons, rainfall is often above average, with an annual rainfall of about 50 inches. Snow is primarily on Tennessee’s mountains but may dust the lower areas during snowstorms.
When Does It Snow in Tennessee?
Snowstorms frequent the Tennessee Smoky Mountains. So if you’re wondering, ‘What months does it snow in Tennessee?’ Tennessee receives snowfall in January and February. However, the months of March, April, and December also get a fair share. Tennessee’s Gatlinburg Mountain, for example, gets at least an inch of snow since the year 2000, giving it an average of 9 inches in snowfall a year.
Here’s a breakdown of average snowfalls in Gatlinburg from winter to spring (in inches):
What Is the Coldest Month in Tennessee?
January is the coldest month in Tennessee, with a temperature typically ranging from 37 to 44 degrees. Rainfall, however, measures high (at least 5 inches) from March to May and November to December (Chattanooga and Memphis).
If you’re traveling to Tennessee in January, bring a comfortably warm jacket (view on Amazon). This 100% Polyester winter jacket takes pride in its Omni-Tech feature that makes it waterproof yet breathable.
What Are the Winters Like in Tennessee?
If you’re trying to get away from winters that are too cold for comfort, Tennessee is a milder choice. Does it snow in Tennessee? Yes, but it’s a dry type of chill with not much moisture in the air. Also, snow barely stays on the ground for a few days then melts away, sometimes in a matter of hours.
However, despite the short period of snow, winters in Tennessee are challenging. Instead of snowy ground during the season, Tennessee often experiences freezing rain, creating slippery ice. Since residents aren’t used to snowfall, cars skidding around is among the causes of vehicular and pedestrian accidents. Scraping and salting are the states’ initiatives to address such scenarios.
Winter is also a ‘pause’ for most business establishments. The reason is due to the 1993 blizzard that padded Tennessee roads with 2 feet of snow in just one night, causing a power outage for weeks in some areas.
What Part of Tennessee Gets Snow?
Where and when it snow in Tennessee differ depending on what part of the state you’re in. Here are some cities that encountered extraordinary brushes with snow in the wintertime.
You won’t be asking if it snows in Tennessee if you’re on the eastern side. Mountains in East Tennessee (those close to Virginia and North Carolina) are among the high points that get significant amounts of snow due to their elevated locations. Snowfall in these areas stay longer on the ground, are heavier, and more frequent. Up for some hiking? Pack a pair of snowshoes (view on Amazon). With fully adjustable bindings, this pair of sawtooth snowshoes also has hard-pack grip teeth against accidental slips.
The city recorded 4 inches of snowfall in 2017, with a record low of -24 degrees in 1985 (up to 12 inches of snow). When does it snow in Tennessee’s Knoxville? The average winter temperature in the city is 41 degrees, but the snow only visits every 5 to 10 years.
Located on the Highland Rim and east of Nashville, Cookeville averages 7 inches of snowfall yearly.
Situated south of Nashville, Franklin averages an inch of snow every year.
When does it snow in Tennessee’s cities like Memphis? About 5 inches of snow covered areas in Memphis in 2016. On average, though, the city records a 40-degree temperature throughout January. Light or heavy snowfalls aren’t too common in Memphis, but the city’s snowfall average is about 3.8 inches every year.
Cities like Crossville, elevated at 1900 feet, get more snowfall compared to Nashville.
To the east of Cumberland Plateau, Monterey receives up to 17 inches of snow every year.
Top 10 Tennessee Cities (Average Snow Days)
|City||Average Snow Days|
Does Nashville Have Snow?
History says that Nashville does experience snow. Apart from the 2016 surprise, the city also experienced a milder 2-inch snow blanket in 2017.
When does it snow in Tennessee’s city of Nashville? Every winter, Nashville is visited by as many as four storms, bringing its snowfall average to 6.3 inches annually.
January in Nashville sees a temperature range of 28 to 47 degrees. As such, you could experience light nightly snow during the city’s low temperatures.
Winter Destinations in Tennessee
Snow may not be a regular occurrence in Tennessee, but there are countless reasons why you’d enjoy a winter stay in the state.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers winter activities like skiing and cable-car rides at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort that sits on the mountain. You could even indulge in some shopping among local artisan shops.
Rock City’s Enchanted Garden of Lights
Walking along aisles of sculpture-like light formations would bring you to the heart of Chattanooga’s tradition. Rock City offers winter wonderland with its festival of lights as you stroll the Grand Corridor in Yule Town. Be enchanted in its Magic Forest and be amazed by the icy lights in the Arctic Kingdom.
Tennessee Valley Railroad’s North Pole Adventures
Yet another Chattanooga adventure, treat yourself and your family to a Polar Express-like ride at Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
Throughout winter, this historic theatre would let you travel back in time as you watch classic movies and think of cozying up near a fireplace. And don’t forget to join A Dickens of a Christmas, a well-celebrated tradition in Franklin, Tennessee, for over three decades!
Pigeon Forge Winterfest
Pigeon Forge Winterfest has been a favorite winter destination in Tennessee for 32 years! Imagine over 5 million lights draped all around the forge, captivating tourists during wintertime. Navigate Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Park with exciting rides to choose from and splendid fireworks that light the winter night sky.
Conclusion: Does It Snow in Tennessee?
Snow doesn’t always blanket Tennessee, but the state offers tons of winter activities for you, your friends, and your loved ones. Whether you’re traveling to Tennessee for a getaway vacation or planning on staying, you’re sure to fill a bucket list of experiences overflowing with excitement, inspiration, and treasured moments.