The High Wind Warning will now be in effect from 8:00 AM today through 6:00 AM Thursday. Wind gusts will reach 55mph this afternoon and up to 90mph this evening. GSMNP will begin closing numerous park roads this morning in advance of the worsening conditions, including some or all that provide access to Mt. LeConte.
A Red Flag Warning has also been issued for the region, noting a heightened fire risk due to the low humidity, strong winds, and warm dry air pushing up from the south.
Press release from GSMNP…
High Wind Warning: The park plans to close several roads across the park in preparation for expected high winds on Wednesday, March 30. The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning for the mountains beginning at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 30 through 8:00 a.m. on Thursday, March 31. Officials anticipate sustained winds between 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 80 mph.
Due to the potential for hazardous conditions caused by downed trees and the increased risk of fire danger and spread, the following roads will likely begin closing after 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, March 30: Newfound Gap Road, Cades Cove Loop Road, Foothills Parkway West (from Chilhowee Lake to Wears Valley), and Foothills Parkway East. The following roads are likely to begin closing after noon on Wednesday, March 30: Little River Road, Wear Cove Gap Road, Laurel Creek Road, and Tremont Road. At this time, the high winds are anticipated to affect primarily the Tennessee side of the park. Road closures may occur earlier than expected and additional roads may close as conditions warrant.
All closures will remain in effect until the High Wind Warning has expired. At that time, crews will assess damage and begin clearing roads as needed for reopening. Hikers are advised to avoid hiking during this time period across the park, particularly in areas with standing dead trees. Park visitor centers, campgrounds, and picnic areas remain open at this time. Visitors should exercise extreme caution when making travel plans. Due to dry conditions and damaging winds, the risk of fire danger is increased.
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