Thunderstorm Season in the Smokies

It’s been a wet season across the Southeast and even wet by the rainforest standard of the Great Smoky Mountains. Fortunately we’ve seen an end to the stationery fronts pulling tropical moisture to us the way metal shavings are drawn to a magnet. Even though things have dried out substantially we’re in the middle of thunderstorm season here in the Smokies.

A wild rainbow trout enjoying excellent water levels in the Smokies

A wild rainbow trout enjoying excellent water levels in the Smokies

July is actually the wettest month of the year in the Smokies because of regular afternoon thunderstorms, but these almost never blow out all of the streams. These almost always happen in the afternoon and are over by dark. While they may bring water levels up they are usually in good shape by the next morning. Even better, they are often somewhat isolated so they rarely mess up water conditions across multiple watersheds.

Smaller streams are getting better everyday and water levels are almost what we’d call ideal. Our advice is to keep a rain jacket handy and check the flows before you go.


The tailwaters are slowly getting back in shape. The Hiwassee is essentially back to normal and waders will even find a few hours here and there when wading is a possibility without high water.

The same is true of the South Holston. This is the best tailwater in the state right now to satisfy both waders and floaters. Waders will need to stay up on the generation schedule and be ready to head downstream to stay ahead of rising water, but this is a pretty typical summer schedule.

The Watauga is still running high and should be considered only appropriate for those with experience rowing the river. Having said that, we’re hearing pretty good reports from the few who are floating the river.

The Clinch will have some pretty good flows for waders this weekend and will hopefully get in shape in the week beyond as Norris Lake has fallen back into the “normal” range.