Tennessee has a humid subtropical climate, with the exception of the higher mountains, which have a humid continental climate. The Gulf of Mexico is the dominant factor in the climate of Tennessee, with winds from the south being responsible for most of the state's annual precipitation. Generally the state has hot summers and mild to cool winters with generous precipitation throughout the year. On average the state receives 50 inches (130 cm) of precipitation throughout the year. Snowfall ranges from 5 inches (13 cm) in West Tennessee to over 16 inches (41 cm) in the higher mountains in East Tennessee.
Summers in the state are generally hot, with most of the state averaging a high of around 90°F (32°C) during the summer months. Summer nights tend to be cooler in East Tennessee. Winters tend to be mild to cool, increasing in coolness at higher elevations and in the east. Generally, for areas outside the highest mountains, the average overnight lows are near freezing for most of the state.
Tennessee does have its share of severe weather. While the state is far enough from the coast to avoid any direct impact from a hurricane, the location of the state makes it likely to be impacted from the remnants of tropical cyclones which weaken over land and eventually dump tremendous amounts of rain. The state averages around 50 days of thunderstorms per year, and some of them can be quite severe. Tornadoes are not uncommon, with West Tennessee slightly more vulnerable to tornadoes. On average, the state has 15 tornadoes per year. Tornadoes in Tennessee can be severe, and Tennessee leads the nation in the percentage of total tornadoes which have fatalities. Winter storms are an occasional problem—made worse by a lack of snow removal equipment and a population which might not be accustomed to travel in large amounts of snow—although ice storms are a more likely occurrence. Fog is a persistent problem in parts of the state, especially in much of the Smoky Mountains.