It’s setting up to be a beautiful sunny day across the Smokies, and the autumn colors throughout the middle elevations are still in their prime. Today could be the last day to really enjoy the show before the weather conditions turn yucky over the next several days. Temps are starting out chilly, but this afternoon the summit should reach the mid 50s. By tonight skies are expected to thicken up with clouds before things turn interesting for Thursday.
A High Wind Watch has been issued for Thursday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. During that time the mountains could experience sustained winds of 20-40mph with gusts upwards of 60mph possible. Due to the mass of arctic air pushing down into the southern appalachians, these winds will also be joined by a nasty mix of rain showers that could mix with snow. At this point, little to no accumulation is expected, but these types of conditions can still create hazards on trail or while driving. So use extra caution if surfaces turn slick and when visibility gets reduced. For Friday, the winds will ease up some, but the rain and snow shower chances will still linger well into Saturday. Temperatures around the lodge will likely hover between the 30s and 40s for the duration. Hikers should have alternate plans ready in case the NPS decides to close any park roads, namely US 441 (Newfound Gap Rd) because of the high winds or falling temps. It’s not unusual for that to happen this time of year, so if Alum Cave is not accessible, be sure and get an early start should one have to ascend any of the trails out of Cherokee Orchard.
Beginning this evening, guest supper will be served starting at 5:20 PM Eastern to continue allowing folks time to attend sunset. All other visitor service times will remain as is, with the gift shop open until 4:30 and beverages for overnight guests happening from 1:30-4:30. We will likely make another shift at the start of the new month.
Have a great day.