Spring snow surprises tourists in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The calendar says spring, but it doesn’t look like spring in parts of the Smokies.

For anyone heading into the Smoky Mountains Thursday it did not take long to figure out that winter gear is what you would need. The snow settled in Wednesday night and has been snowing off and on ever since, leaving a good dusting on the ground at Newfound Gap. People spent all day to check it out, take some pictures, and throw some snowballs around.

“Locals often call this a ‘Blackberry Winter,'” said Molly Schroer, Great Smoky Mountains National Park spokeswoman. “You go from spring up into a little taste of winter, the last hoorah hopefully for the year.”

Park headquarters was soggy and green, but it was a different picture at higher elevations. The snowfall was unexpected for most visitors who had a hard time believing this weather in early May.

“It’s crazy because it’s like May now and it’s snowing!” said Kelsi Mayr.

She was setting off on the next leg of the Appalachian Trail Thursday, stunned at the weather.

“As a Floridian I don’t see snow, and this is crazy! I can’t believe I’m going to hike in the snow,” she said.”Thankfully I packed warmer clothes just because I knew it was going to be colder.”

Park officials say while it doesn’t happen every year, it’s not the most uncommon occurrence.

“We look back at our records and about every three years we get something like this,” said Schroer. “It’s kind of late season. It can kind of go either way, so this time of year be prepared for anything when you come up here.”

Even though it caught some off guard and unprepared, they still took the chance to stop and enjoy the sights.

While Newfound Gap Road stayed open, Clingman’s Dome Road had to be closed. Road crews and plows were out all day making sure Newfound Gap Road stayed passable and trying to clear Clingman’s Dome.

Hail in the valley

Some other parts of East Tennessee saw hail on Thursday and took the time to send photos to WATE 6 On Your Side.

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