Record rain, wind, and cold in January and February
After years of below-average precipitation, January brought “heavy rainfall…sufficient enough to result in near to above normal total monthly precipitation” for the month all over the state, according to the National Weather Service. Knoxville, the nearest large city to the Smokies, received 6.63 inches of precipitation in January (2.06 inches above normal).
Wind and cold in the Smokies made the news, too: Bob Miller of Great Smoky Mountains National Park wrote that “the park’s 6,593-foot high Mount LeConte Lodge reported a low for the previous night of -22 degrees. Additionally, the park's closest weather station with wind measuring equipment – Cove Mountain in Sevier County in Tennessee – reported gusts up to 45 mph on the same night. That works out to a wind chill of -60 degrees. The coldest reading on record was -32 degrees on January 21, 1985,” but no wind speeds were recorded on that day so we don’t know how cold it felt.
Do your part, Parks
A new initiative encourages National Park Service employees to act with environmental sustainability in mind. Parks enrolled at the Climate Friendly Parks Program compete with other parks to see which can reduce their carbon emissions the most. The program website allows parks to calculate their “carbon footprint” by inputting thermostat settings, miles driven per week, and other ways we consume energy. Changes that parks and individuals could make include replacing incandescent light bulbs with Energy Star lightbulbs, installing motion-sensor lights in outdoor areas, not idling cars and trucks, choosing fuel-efficient vehicles of the minimum size required, and carpooling with friends and co-workers whenever possible. Find more information by searching for the Climate Friendly Parks Program.