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Harsh winter a threat for fall events in Gatlinburg?

Turning to Autumn
Turning to Autumn
Sarah McHatton

The managing editor of The Farmer’s Almanac, Sandi Duncan, is predicting a frigid and bitter winter for the 2014/2015 year. Everything east of the Rocky Mountains, according to the Almanac, will see an intense increase of winter weather, perhaps occurring sooner than normal. What this does for local events is create a chance for more hazardous conditions at peak tourist times. Fall events in Gatlinburg bring in millions of dollars of revenue for the area.

A Press Release given by the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau states that the peak times for fall colors vary based on certain variables. By mid-September, colors begin to show with the peaks below 4000 feet happening through October. The traditional first freeze in this area is between mid-September and the end of October.

See the full Press Release here:

The mild conditions throughout the 2014 year may change peak color timing. The 2013/2014 winter was harsher for the Smoky Mountains than in previous years. Christian Gil, a local resident explains his views on this year’s weather patterns, “Winter was bitter at negative 19 degrees, but spring came early this year. Our summer was mild in temperature too. For me, these seem to be indications of an early and harsh winter.” Another resident, Wanda Dorsey claims that an increase of indoor spiders indicate similar conditions. Her claim follows local wives’ tales.

Because these events coincide, one must question the validity of an early, hard winter. But what do these changes and predictions do to the peak tourist season?

In autumn, multiple festivals bring in tourists and locals alike to celebrate a year of Thanks, a year of Harvest, and a hope for a prosperous, bountiful next year. Events like the Craftsman’s Fair bring amazing artists out of the woodworks to display breath taking art pieces for purchase in time for the Christmas season. The streets of Gatlinburg are lined with pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, and hay bales with decorations of brilliant orange and scarecrows. A crisp, cool sensation fills the air creating a longing for comfort food, sweaters, and a roaring fire in the fireplace.

Thousands of tourists flock to the Smoky Mountains to absorb the allure of autumn colors, the hometown feel of Gatlinburg, and the never ending events and sights. What this year’s predictions indicate is a chance for tourists to see a different view of the Great Smoky Mountains. One that is covered in luminous, glistening snow. One that captures the locals’ hearts each and every year as they wake up to snow covered mountains, cold temperatures, and at home with the family. These memories and moments are some that most tourists miss when they arrive for the summer and autumn seasons.

No matter what transpires with weather related issues, tourists planning to come to the Great Smokies during autumn in a yearly ritual will not miss the brilliant colors of autumn, but they may receive the chance to view an even more magical event – an early, snowy winter. Please do not change your plans with threats of inclement weather. You will not regret it.

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