WEATHER ON THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN LOOP is fairly predictable most of the summer. The winter months from November through March can be impossible to predict.The chart below indicates averages for each month at lower elevations. BE WARNED that these are averages and the actual temperatures can vary widely, For example we have seen temperatures on US 441 ranging from the high-80s in summer to minus 15 degrees or even lower in the winter. The snowfall will be substantially higher on US 441 with elevations from 2000 to 5000+ feet.
There can many fair weather days in the winter, but they are not predictable. We have ridden Christmas and New Years, but we considered that lucky. We have seen snow as early as Halloween. The Blizzard of 1993 dropped 4 feet of snow on the higher elevations in one day on March 13. We have seen snow on the US 441 as late as May.
WARNING These roads can be extremely dangerous when ice and snow is present. North Carolina plows and treats roads after heavy snows, but we have seen severe road icing even after that. REMEMBER If the road is getting bad it will only get worse as you head toward the higher elevations. This is no place to get stuck overnight in the winter.
The National Park Service is quick to close roads in the Great Smoky Mountains. This includes US 441 and the Foothills Parkway.
Many summer afternoons bring widely scattered rain showers. Often the weather stations and web weather will indicate rain for the entire area. BE AWARE that you can still have nearly a full day of riding before the summer showers hit in mid-afternoon. And these showers are spotty …. not everywhere. Go 5 miles and you might be in the clear. They often dissipate in the late afternoon leaving several hours of good riding before dark.
Be aware that bad weather such as rain and high winds can bring down trees at any time. Travel with caution under these conditions.
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The National Park Service can close sections of the Foothills Parkway and US 441 during inclement weather. For all the details on the Foothills Parkway and roadways thru the Great Smoky Mountains check out the NPS website and twitter.