Cloud inversion sightings in Chattanooga, TN

mountain overlook showcasing a wide layer of thick mist in front of a mountain, with the sun rising in the distance.

A beautiful cloud inversion photo taken at Snooper’s Rock.

Photo by @kcsmolak

Grid cities like NYC + Chicago have their henges, San Diego has its glowing “red tides,” and even nearby, the Great Smoky Mountains have synchronous fireflies.

Chattanooga’s Kodak-ready natural occurrence? Cloud inversions.

While cloud inversions aren’t specific to Chattanooga, the city’s serendipitous combination of being located next to the Tennessee River which creates an abundance of moisture that can turn to mist — and having various accessible overlooks like Snooper’s Rock make it a prime location for viewing the unique weather phenomenon.

And while you may not have heard the phrase “cloud inversion” before, if you follow any Chattanoogan with a camera on social media, you’ve definitely seen it.

The weather event is also known as a temperature inversion, and it’s exactly what it sounds like — the result of the normal distribution of air inverting, aka, cool air being trapped beneath warm air.

So, how to see it in person and snap a photo of your own? While there’s no foolproof way to predict a cloud inversion occurrence, the Tennessee River Gorge Trust recently shared a few conditions that are conducive to cloud inversions, so you can try to predict when the next one will take place:

  • Temperature that meets the dew point
  • Relatively high humidity
  • Not too much wind + calm conditions
  • Longer nights (aka, you’re more likely to see these in the fall + winter)
  • No incoming fronts

Pro Tip: once the sun fully rises, these inversions will often dissipate + clear, so you’re more likely to catch one in its full glory during sunrise. We’re envisioning a crisp autumn morning with coffee in hand + views across the land. 😍

Wondering where you can view a cloud inversion locally? These spots have all given way to beautiful views during this weather event:

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