It’s hard to believe it, but it’s true. The first snow has officially fallen in the Smokies. Three inches touched ground on Mt. Leconte on Monday, October 4th. Leconte Lodge staff reported on Highonleconte.com that this was the biggest first snow in over thirty years. On Sunday, temperatures reached a high of 39 degrees and a low of 24 degrees which ushered in the snow the next morning.
Gatlinburg hasn’t seen any snow fall in the city, but with peaks on Mt. Leconte being 20 degrees below the base of the mountain it’s no wonder snow fell. It has been cold around here! Temperature during winter months in the Smokies varies. Half of the time Gatlinburg will see temperature highs above 50 degrees, and half of the time they are below 50 degrees. Nights can dip below freezing, and this past winter was particularly white. Gatlinburg saw an extremely cold and snowy winter in 2009 followed by an intensely hot summer.
Historically, lows at high elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have hit an average of 38 degrees in October so this cold weather and early first snow aren’t usual.
October is usually the time when Gatlinburg visitors as well as residents are buzzing about the leaves changing. The fall season is such a beautiful time of year in the Smokies and people love to experience the beauty nature brings to the table. However, with the cold weather and an early snow hikers should be careful. The staff at Leconte Lodge warns that hikers should stay hydrated and wear lots of layers. Hikers have been taking advantage of the heaters at the lodge but on the trails it’s cold. Hikers should prepare accordingly.
With the early snow, it’s safe to wonder if the 2010 winter season will be even more intense than 2009. However, for the time being warmer weather is expected for the weekend. The snow has already begun melting, and Gatlinburg visitors are enjoying the time they do have with the beautiful fall colors.