East Tennessee Winter Storm Leads to Road Closures in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A significant winter storm moving across East Tennessee has led to the closure of several roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park began announcing these closures on Sunday night in anticipation of the snow expected to hit the area on Monday.

Forecast and Snow Accumulation

According to the WATE Storm Team’s forecast models, up to 6 inches of snow could accumulate in some areas of East Tennessee, with the mountain regions expecting between 4 to 6 inches. This considerable snowfall, coupled with the expected bitter cold, has prompted the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) to take precautionary measures for the safety of visitors and residents alike.

Road Closures in the Park

The GSMNP has temporarily closed several key roads due to the hazardous weather conditions. These closures include both the East and West sections of Foothills Parkway, including the old and new sections, Wears Cove Gap, Little River Road, Gatlinburg Bypass, Cherokee Orchard Road at the GSMNP border, Laurel Creek Road, Cades Cove Loop, and Upper Tremont Road. These closures are essential to ensure the safety of motorists and park visitors, as the roads are likely to be treacherous and possibly impassable due to the snow.

Dangers of Hypothermia

The winter storm brings not only the dangers associated with driving on snowy roads but also the increased risk of hypothermia. First responders in the area have been alerting residents and visitors to the warning signs of hypothermia, which can occur in extremely cold conditions. They advise everyone to stay indoors if possible and to dress warmly in layers if they must go outside.

Winter Driving Tips

For those who need to travel, the Storm Team has shared crucial winter driving tips to navigate safely through the snowy conditions. These include accelerating and decelerating slowly to maintain control, reducing speed to adjust to the lower traction on snow-covered roads, avoiding locking up the brakes to prevent skidding, not powering up hills to avoid spinning tires, and avoiding stopping while going uphill, as it can be challenging to get moving again.

Impact on the Community

The winter storm and the subsequent road closures have a significant impact on the communities in East Tennessee and the visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While the park is known for its stunning winter landscapes, the current conditions may disrupt travel plans and outdoor activities. Park officials and local authorities are urging everyone to exercise caution and stay informed about the latest weather updates and road conditions.

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The closure of roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to the winter storm in East Tennessee is a reminder of the power and unpredictability of nature. Residents and visitors alike are advised to heed the warnings, follow the winter driving tips if travel is necessary, and stay alert to the dangers of hypothermia during this cold snap. As the community braces for the snow and bitter cold, the focus remains on safety and preparedness during this challenging weather event.

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