Our most recent cool spell, known as Blackberry Winter, has raised some questions about the origin of the name.

The climb from the cold of winter to the warmth of summer is typically not a smooth one in East Tennessee. We have lots of ups and downs with the temperatures this time of year.

In the Southeast, each of these cool or cold snaps has a name that coincides with what is currently blooming at the time.

The five main 'little winters' that occur during the spring season in East Tennessee are:

  • Redbud Winter: This usually occurs in late March or early April
  • Dogwood Winter: It usually takes place in mid to late April (we had two this year)
  • Locust Winter: It's named for the locust trees that bloom in early to mid-May
  • Blackberry Winter: This happens when blackberry plants are flowering in mid-May (flowering being the key word here. The berries themselves typically don't ripen until mid-summer). 
  • Linsey-Woolsey Britches Winter: This is usually the last cool snap that occurs in late May after most of the spring blooms have vanished, named after homespun long wool underwear people would wear during a late cold snap.

You may need to 'get out your britches' one more time before the heat of summer really settles in.

There is no actual science to the naming of these winters, it's a weatherlore thing, unique to this part of the country. Kind of like using woolly worms and persimmon seeds to predict how cold winter will be.

And we don't necessarily have all of these cold snaps each year. Sometimes we have more, sometimes less.

Either way, it's just another fun part of living in East Tennessee!