Discover the Coldest Place in Tennessee

Written by Colby Maxwell
Published: December 19, 2022
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Tennessee is a beautiful mixture of rolling mountains and grassy fields, but it can get pretty cold in some places! Today, we are going to take a look at the Volunteer State in order to learn the coldest place as well as the coldest temperature ever recorded. Although most people don’t think of Tennessee as a cold place, these stats may be a bit surprising! Let’s get started and discover the coldest place in Tennessee (plus a few other interesting things)!

The Coldest Place in Tennessee

Oak Ridge

Oak Ridge has been recorded as Tennessee’s coldest city by average annual temperature.


Oak Ridge is a city located in Anderson and Roane Counties in the eastern part of Tennessee. It is known for being the site of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a United States Department of Energy facility conducting research in science and technology. Additionally, it has been recorded as the state’s coldest city by average annual temperature.

The data was compiled via Stacker and used the NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) huge database in order to calculate it. It’s important to know that just because Oak Ridge is the coldest average city, it doesn’t mean it is home to the coldest temperature in the state or even the coldest winters.

During the winter months, temperatures in Oak Ridge can drop to freezing or below, with an average low of 28 degrees Fahrenheit in December. Snowfall is common in the city, with an average of 6 inches of snow per year. In addition to the cold temperatures, Oak Ridge can also experience severe weather, such as ice storms and freezing rain.

Despite the cold winters, Oak Ridge is a thriving city with a rich history. It was founded during World War II as a secret government facility involved in the Manhattan Project, which developed the first atomic bomb. Today, the city is home to a diverse population and a thriving economy. It is home to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which is one of the largest science and energy research facilities in the world.

The Coldest Temperature Ever Recorded in Tennessee

Although Oak Ridge has the lowest average temperature of any city in Tennessee, it doesn’t hold the record for the lowest temperature recorded. That honor belongs to Mountain City.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Tennessee occurred on December 30, 1917, in Mountain City, located in the northeastern part of the state. On that day, the temperature dropped to -32 degrees Fahrenheit, the lowest temperature ever recorded in the state.

Mountain City is a town located in Johnson County, Tennessee, in the northeastern part of the state. It is situated in the Appalachian Mountains, meaning it has a cooler and more temperate climate than the rest of the state.

Many would list Mountain City as the coldest place in the state, and they probably wouldn’t be wrong, it just depends on how you measure it. Since Mountain City has such a high elevation and is located in the mountains, it is often snowier and windier than the other cities in the state. Still, it’s generally not officially recognized as such using the NOAA data.

Animals in Tennessee That Adapt for the Winter

black bear

Tennessee is home to several cold-hardy animals, including the black bear.

© Fuller Photography

Tennessee is home to a diverse range of cold-hardy trees and wildlife, many of which are adapted to the state’s varied climate and landscapes. Some of the cold-hardy trees that are commonly found in Tennessee include the oak and the maple.

Oak is a deciduous tree known for its strong wood and ubiquitous presence in forests. It can grow to be quite large, although it depends on the exact species. Several different species of oak trees are native to Tennessee, including the white oak, the red oak, and the black oak. These trees are able to withstand cold temperatures and are often found in wooded areas throughout the state, including the cold regions in the mountains.

Maple is another type of deciduous tree that is common in Tennessee. It is known for its bright red, orange, and yellow autumn foliage, which makes it a popular tree for landscaping. There are several different species of maple trees found in Tennessee, including the red maple, the sugar maple, and the silver maple. These trees can withstand cold temperatures and are often found in rural and urban areas throughout the state.

In terms of wildlife, Tennessee is home to several cold-hardy animals, including the black bear. The black bear is a large, omnivorous mammal that is found throughout the state. It is known for its ability to survive in a variety of habitats, including forests, mountains, and swamps. In the winter, black bears will often enter hibernation, a type of dormancy that helps them conserve energy during the cold months. Incredibly, black bears in the Smokies will den in standing hollow trees way up in the air!

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © rarrarorro/

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About the Author

Colby is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering outdoors, unique animal stories, and science news. Colby has been writing about science news and animals for five years and holds a bachelor's degree from SEU. A resident of NYC, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone about what birds he saw at his local birdfeeder.

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