Does it Snow in Tennessee?

By Judith K. Tingley; Updated September 26, 2017

Never say never, even to snow in Tennessee

Does it Snow in Tennessee?

Tennessee is a southern state and for the most part, winters are quite mild. However, it does snow in Tennessee, as it does in many other southern states. But it doesn't snow much, and it doesn't snow often. In other words, if a ski vacation is what you have in mind, Tennessee is probably not your ideal choice. For example, Nashville gets only about 10 inches of snow a year, and Memphis gets a mere 5 inches. Once in a great while, there will be a snow emergency, such as happened in January 2017, when Nashville got 2 inches of snow and Knoxville 4 inches – which threw the state into temporary chaos.

While folks living in New England might scoff at what seems like much ado about nothing, it's really no laughing matter in a state unaccustomed to deal with freezing roads and a homeless population in danger due to freezing temperatures. In a state unprepared for an unlikely snow event, school buses were sliding off roadways while city crews worked diligently to clear the roads – but again, this is the exception, not the norm.

Why spend the winter in Tennessee?

Overall, Tennessee should be a pleasant place to spend winter, perhaps especially for someone used to much colder climes. Memphis, in the southwestern part of the state, has an average January temperature of 40 degrees F, while Nashville averages 36 degrees F and Knoxville, to the east, averages 41 degrees F. Take note: All those average temperatures are above freezing, though undeniably a bit on the cool side. Should you decide to take time off from northern snow and head for a mild, if not exactly balmy, hideout in Tennessee, pack your bags accordingly with sweaters and jackets and nice, thick socks.

Are you lonesome tonight – for snow?

And if the traveler gets lonesome for snow, the remedy is right there in Tennessee in the city of Gatlinburg. Known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg offers a variety of winter activities, including a ride on an aerial cable car to an amusement park which is adjacent to – guess what? A ski resort! There in the mountains, the winter traveler can have all the snowy fun required.

Gatlinburg is also a favorite place for holiday shopping, possibly because a little snow can go a long way towards building the Christmas spirit. There are loads of independent shops offering unique wares, including works by local artisans. If you'll be strolling through the streets in search of perfect presents, wear good walking shoes to give traction over the occasional patch of ice in your path. Bring along real winter clothing: a warm jacket, and a cozy scarf to keep your neck nice and warm.

There may even be enough snow to tempt you into forming a group of carolers. Have a happy winter in Tennessee!

About the Author

Judith K. Tingley