The Ups and Downs of Mountain Living, Part 3

Piney Mountain Road – Icy

This is part three of my on-going yammer about life in the mountains.  In Part 1 we looked at getting established, in Part 2 we looked at the physical necessities of life here.  This time we’ll look as the more esoteric aspects.

In east Tennessee winters are normally pretty mild.  This winter has been an exception: in early January we hit an overnight low of minus 1° F, the lowest temperature in 20 years.  My relatives in Nebraska and Colorado laugh at me, saying that’s a balmy spring day to them.  We have been spoiled by the normally temperate weather we enjoy so much here.  Aside from this year’s cold, we do have some special challenges.

One is that temperatures vary with elevation.  Newport sprawls out along the Pigeon River on the floor of the valley and is around 1,050 feet elevation.  At 6,593 feet, Mount LeConte is the highest point in our immediate area (we can see it from our front porch) and the difference in temperature between there and Newport can be dramatic.  There are dozens and dozens of other mountain peaks that range between 1,500 and 4,000 feet.

After a snow, we often have continued school closings on days when the roads in Newport are clear and the weather seems fine.  This is to accommodate the people who live in those higher elevations where it has not warmed up enough for things to start melting off.  Road ice is the major issue.

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