August 31, 2021
Tropical Depression Ida update 5:00 PM:
The Flash Flood Watch and Wind Advisory remain in effect for our area. Scattered rain showers have been passing over the mountains all day and are expected to do so well into Wednesday as the storm continues to push northward. The strongest winds are forecast for late this evening, with sustained winds of 25mph and gusts upwards of 55mph still possible. By Wednesday morning, these sustained winds and gusts should gradually weaken, reducing the risk of loosening trees.
All roads and trails accessing Mt. LeConte remain open at this time. The NPS has given no indication of closing its roadways or facilities for the storm; thus, the lodge remains open to serve those who make the climb. Warm food and cozy cabins await those guests with reservations after a wet day on the trail. Conditions across the South should improve by late Wednesday and lead into a beautiful holiday weekend.
The rain, lightning, clouds, and breezes are all here now, and are expected to hang around a solid 36-48 more hours. Even though some intense bands started lashing the region last night, the bulk of the slow moving storm is still churning its way here from the southwest. Temps are in the mid 50s and are unlikely to break the 60s, especially once the cold front sweeps down behind the storm.
A Flash Flood Watch is in effect for our area this morning through 2:00 PM Wednesday. Several inches of rain are expected to fall, with locally heavier amounts possible in the mountains. This could lead to rapidly swelling creeks and pose hazards along trails with unbridged stream crossings.
A Wind Advisory for our area begins at 2:00 PM this afternoon and lasts through 8:00 AM Wednesday. As the day progresses, sustained winds will increase to 25mph with gusts upwards of 60mph possible. Falling trees pose a hazard with high winds and already saturated shallow surface soil.
All roads and trails accessing Mt. LeConte remain open at this time. So Alum Cave Trail is still a viable option for those looking to make haste. Intermittent rain showers, some heavy at times, have already been happening since yesterday evening. The strongest parts of the storm are yet to arrive. Guests with reservations should not delay in starting up the trail today to beat the higher winds and potential rising creeks expected later. Please make note of any new trail hazards such as downed trees and slides, especially on trails like Alum Cave and Trillium Gap for our llamas. Specifically their location, size, nearby landmarks, and even photos help us and the NPS trail crews a great deal in being able to address them promptly.
Be safe and have a great day.
August 30, 2021
Tropical Storm Ida update 4:00 PM:
A Flash Flood Watch has been issued for our area 8:00 AM Tuesday until 2:00 PM Wednesday. Several inches of rain are expected in the mountains that could cause creeks to swell. Use caution at all unbridged creek crossings.
A Wind Advisory has been issued for our area 2:00 PM Tuesday until 8:00 AM Wednesday. The strongest winds are slated for tomorrow evening, with sustained speeds of 25mph and gusts of 60mph during the storm’s peak.
Rain showers and light winds will appear in the region as early as this evening and last into Thursday morning. Temps will likely be in the 50s at the lodge for the duration.
All park roads and trails accessing Mt. LeConte remain open at this time. Please make note of any new and unusual hazards or obstructions along one’s route so that they can be reported to the NPS for prompt resolution after the storm passes.
Well August is about to go out with a roar, but not before we get to enjoy one more sunny day in the mountains. Some morning cap clouds have given way to clearer skies to kickstart the day. Temps are in the upper 50s and we should have no problem leaping into the lower 70s today with such radiance from above. The air will be calm and humid once again, so drink plenty of water to keep the body cool and fueled.
Hurricane Ida made landfall yesterday as an incredibly powerful storm and is now churning our direction. Outer rain bands should start reaching the Smokies late this evening, with the full force of the storm being felt in our neck of the woods on Tuesday and into Wednesday. The current forecast for our region shows Ida unloading 2-4” of rain, with the potential for flash flooding and locally heavier amounts. The TN side of the park is also staring down 60mph wind gusts on Tuesday, with the potential for tornadic spin-offs across the South courtesy of the storm’s rotation. Temps will also be cooling down significantly as the storm passes through, as highs on the mountain are unlikely to escape the 50s.
Given the forecast, it is possible that the NPS initiates temporary road closures during the storm, which could include US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) because of its length and elevation range. Guests with reservations need to plan accordingly if a trail like Alum Cave is not accessible on Tuesday and/or Wednesday. During significant rain events, Rainbow Falls is inadvisable due to the hazardous unbridged crossing of LeConte Creek above the falls. Bull Head is also inadvisable if there are intense winds and lightning potential since that trail is canopy-less for several miles. As long as Roaring Fork remains open, visitors would be encouraged to take Trillium Gap Trail, as its wet crossings are less hazardous and the trail would be mostly sheltered from the brunt of the southwest emanating storm. Have a detailed trip itinerary, share it with others, hike in groups, and dress appropriately for spending time on trail in less than ideal conditions. And with these scattered rain bands, remain vigilant during your trek as it could be sunny one hour, then windy and wet the next.
We will continue to provide updates in advance of the coming tropical storm. Our thoughts are certainly with those affected down in Louisiana. Be safe and have a great day.
August 29, 2021
You’d think the mountain top was frozen in time the air is so still and quiet. Aside from the haze obscuring the horizon, conditions are mostly clear at our elevation. We’re looking at a mostly sunny day in the Smokies with only a slight chance now for an afternoon shower. The air will remain calm with fairly warm temps, as we start out in the upper 50s and should witness the lower 70s later. The lowlands are still up for a couple brutal days with high heat indexes although that will change significantly once Hurricane Ida rolls through. Speaking of which, the forecast cone still shows the major storm tracking just north of our location. The strongest potential for rain and wind here is expected to occur Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. Rain amounts are undetermined at this time, but winds could gust as much as 35mph. Guests with reservations need to have alternate plans for scaling the mountain just in case the NPS feels the need to close certain roads before or during the storm. As we saw last week, rock slides and downed trees can happen with saturated surface soil and high winds.
Have a great end to the week.
August 28, 2021
A beautiful and busy Saturday atop the mountain. The clouds are thick enough to obscure the lodge from views, but that isn’t stopping anyone from enjoying a day in the outdoors. Only a slight chance of evening showers, but so far we’ve been able to dodge anything that pops up on the radar. Temps are mild compared to the lowlands, as we’ve been riding out the upper 60s this afternoon. Tomorrow looks to be a splendid day for outdoor exploration. Mostly sunny and no mention of precip. A rare treat for this summer. Hurricane Ida continues to increase in strength and is expected to make landfall as a major storm. Current projections show it curving near and north of the Smokies. If we experience any rain and wind from it, that will most likely take place Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s a fast moving system and seems to be changing rapidly, but we’ll keep providing updates in the coming days.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend.
August 27, 2021
Starry nights giving way to sunny skies is just what one hopes for. Should be a mostly pleasant day high above East TN. Plenty of sunshine expected this morning and into the afternoon before a slight chance of rain showers for this evening. It will continue to be hot and humid down below which should make a visit to the top delightful. Temps are starting out in the mid 50s and we’ll easily get into the upper 60s today. The forecast for the remaining weekend is basically on repeat.
We’re watching the quick development of Tropical Storm Ida as it tracks up through the gulf. Early models indicate that it could pivot east and pass over or near the Smokies early next week. More rainfall on an already saturated region could mean the potential for more rock slides like we just witnessed below Newfound Gap.
Another reminder about expecting heavy traffic in Sevier County, not only this weekend, but the next several. The Jeep Invasion, Labor Day holiday, then Shades of the Past, and lastly Rod Run all occur on consecutive weekends starting now. Plan your routes and ETA’s to and through the park accordingly for your desired experience.
Have a great day.
August 26, 2021
Well yesterday was certainly an unusually quiet summer day for the mountain, and the park in general, courtesy of the rock slide that caused a temporary closure of US 441. Hats off to the workers who cleared the debris and got it back open for visitors by the afternoon.
It’s a mostly sunny start to this Thursday and decently warm up top already. Should scrape close to low 70s this afternoon. Chances are high yet again for strong thunderstorm development as the day progresses. Depending on how and when these isolated storms strike, rainfall could be torrential with abrupt gusts of wind. Otherwise, expect calm conditions. Precip percentages through the weekend are present, but not overly concerning.
The road maintenance along the Spur between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg wrapped up yesterday, but travelers can still expect delays in and around the Smokies this weekend. The annual “Jeep Invasion” kicks off today and is expected to draw some big crowds to our gateway communities and popular scenic drives. So get an early start on the trail or remember the patience if you hope to avoid the congestion and potential delays this weekend.
Have a great day.
August 25, 2021
UPDATE: US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) has been cleared of debris and is back open to vehicular traffic. Alum Cave and The Boulevard are once again accessible to hikers. Use caution on the roadway, especially as severe thunderstorms form over the mountains this afternoon and evening.
During the night, a rockslide occurred on US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) causing a temporary closure of the entire roadway between Gatlinburg and Cherokee. The slide itself is located just below the gap on the TN side. Road crews are actively working to clear the debris and make sure the slopes are stable before reopening the roadway to vehicular traffic. There is no timetable for when it will reopen. Guests departing the lodge today can still use Alum Cave and exit at Sugarlands, or The Boulevard and exit at Oconaluftee, but there will be no crossing of the state line during the closure. Guests ascending the mountain this morning will need to use the trails out of Cherokee Orchard or Roaring Fork. For folks who had hopes of ascending Alum Cave, this means an extra 1.7 miles of hiking at minimum, so depending on one’s abilities it’s best not to wait to start up the mountain.
It’s a sunny but hazy start up top this morning with temps in the upper 50s. We should get up around 70° later today. By mid afternoon there is a significant chance for thunderstorm development, so another reason not to wait around for the main road to reopen. The rain chances could linger past sunset before subsiding. Winds to remain light. The forecast for Thursday is similar. With all this rain we’ve been having during recent months, it is not unusual for the over saturated terrain to experience rock slides and downed trees. So use caution in adverse conditions while driving and hiking in the park.
Have a great day.
August 24, 2021
It’s going to be another hot and hazy day across the Smokies this Tuesday that marks exactly three months left in the lodge season. Temps are already in the upper 50s for the breakfast rollout and the summit is expected to surpass 70° this afternoon. Despite the soupy haze, there is sunshine filling the sky that should be present much of the day. There is a slight chance for some thunderstorm development later on. Air movement should remain relatively calm but any breeze in these late summer conditions ought to feel delightful.
This is the last week of maintenance happening along the Spur, specifically the southbound section between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. So delays could be possible with the single lane closures if you are approaching the Smokies from that direction. And we’re still waiting on an exact timeline for the work happening along US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) that will directly affect available parking at the Alum Cave trailhead.
Have a great day.
August 23, 2021
Oh glorious sunshine, so good to have you back. What a nice treat to wake up to clear skies and bright light to start this last week of August. A bit of haze on the horizon as the sun gains some height, and clouds will slowly cluster as the day rolls on, but no real threat of rain today. Or the next few days for that matter. Still plenty of water flowing down the mountainside though with this summer having produced adequate precip and then some. Going to be a toasty few days down in the valley, but the summit beckons with cooler temps. Currently in the mid 60s, with overnight lows in the mid 50s expected. Summer isn’t giving up on us yet, as we could tap 70° at some point this week too. Schools continue to resume session across the country, but still plenty of folks flocking to the Smokies. If you’re inspired to make an early start up the trail, don’t forget a headlamp. Sunrise is at 7:00 AM these days, and in those wooded creekside walks, the dark holds on a little longer.
Have a great day.
August 22, 2021
Yesterday began quite pleasantly and then turned sloppy as the hours rolled on. Clouds and intermittent rain showers dominated the afternoon and evening. August has seen it rain on Mt. LeConte on all but three days so far this month. Today will start with a mix of clouds but is supposed to improve steadily through the day. Should make for some great hiking to cap off the weekend. Temps are starting out in the upper 50s and will reach the upper 60s later on. Monday is showing abundant sunshine for the Smokies. A day with mostly clear skies will be a welcome change from this month’s norm. The purple gentian are in peak bloom along the upper reaches of Alum Cave, with the grass of Parnassus a couple more days behind. Around the lodge, the white snakeroot is filling in the gaps among the golden coneflower making for a lush and beautiful landscape. Great time to be on the mountain heading into the last few weeks of summer.
Have a great day.
Welcome to the official blog of LeConte Lodge. We hope you find the information provided here both helpful and enjoyable. Thank you for visiting the site, and we hope to see you on the mountain!