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GSMNP reopens most roads as remnants of Florence linger over Smokies

Numerous facilities and roads, including portions of Newfound Gap Road, were closed this weekend in preparation for tropical activity from the remnants of Florence.

UPDATE (12:45 P.M. Monday):

All main roads and campgrounds are back open in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park after the remnants of Hurricane Florence passed through the area with minimal damage.

Crews started clearing fallen trees and limbs early on Monday morning.

With the exception of Balsam Mountain Campground/Picnic Area/Road, Rich Mountain Road, and Round Bottom Road, all other roads and facilities are expected to open by noon today.

A Hazardous Weather Outlook remains in effect for western North Carolina today, with isolated to scattered thunderstorms possible this afternoon and evening. Hikers should expect downed trees and limbs along trails, especially at the higher elevations, as well as flooded stream crossings causing rivers and trails to become hazardous.

There are currently no trail closures due to the tropical storm event, but trails have not been assessed.

On Sunday, the park experienced sustained winds across the ridges of the higher elevations of 26 mph and wind gusts over 50 mph. A total of 2.30 inches of rain at Mt. LeConte was received over the course of the two-day weather event.

UPDATE (8 A.M. Monday): Laurel Creek Road, Cherokee Orchard Road and parts of Little River Road were opened back up Monday morning following closures made in preparation for the remnants of Florence hitting East Tennessee, according to several tweets from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Smokies Road Info account.

Cades Cove Loop Road is still closed.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be closing many of its roads and facilities this weekend in preparation for the remnants of Florence.

The storm is projected to bring tropical depression-rated storm activity to the area by the end of the weekend into Monday. The park said rainfall in excess of 4-8 inches are expected, with possibly greater amounts on the N.C. side of the park.

On Sunday, wind gusts above 50 miles per hour were recorded at the weather station at Clingmans Dome with sustained winds of 20-30 mph. Along the lower elevations, a steady rain had been falling and winds were relatively light at 5 mph with 15-20 mph gusts.

The park said the closures will remain in effect overnight Sunday and will begin assessing for storm damage Monday morning and open areas back up to the public as quickly as possible. The process is expected to take up to several days depending on the extent of storm damage.

"Your first thought is just survival. Just making sure everyone gets out safe. The rest of the things can be replaced," said Christina Turner, who evacuated with her family from Jacksonville, NC. "Maybe going back to not even having a home. I think that's my biggest fear."

Heavy rains caused severe flooding in their North Carolina neighborhood. From the pictures they've seen, all they can do is hope for the best.

"It's a disaster. All points into Jacksonville are completely closed," said Turner. "All of us are anxious to return home."

The park said the closures will make most of the trailheads inaccessible, and recommends against overnight backcountry use beginning Saturday through Monday. The park said backcountry reservation holders are encouraged to change their itinerary or cancel their permit and receive a refund.

The potential for hazardous conditions such as flooding, downed trees, and landslides has the park putting closures into effect for public safety.

The following closures are in effect this weekend:


Picnic Areas

• Big Creek, Cosby and Greenbrier

• Cades Cove, Chimneys, Collins Creek, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, Twin Creeks

• Heintooga/Balsam Mountain

Front Country Campgrounds

• Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cataloochee and Cosby

• Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Smokemont

Horse Campgrounds

• Big Creek, Cataloochee and Round Bottom

• Anthony Creek, Tow String



• Abrams Creek Road

• Balsam Mountain Road

• Cosby Access Road

• Foothills Parkway East

• Greenbrier Road

• Heintooga Ridge Road/Round Bottom Road/Straight Fork Road

• Ramsey Cascade Road including Ramsey Cascade Trail

• Cades Cove Loop Road

• Cherokee Orchard to Twin Creeks Road

• Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

• Laurel Creek Road to Cades Cove

• Foothills Parkway West, from Look Rock to Highway 129

• Little River Road (Sugarlands to Metcalf Bottoms entrance)

• Little River Road (Metcalf Bottoms to Townsend Wye)

• Newfound Gap Road, from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Newfound Gap

• Wear Cove Gap Road

• Tremont Road (Upper) from Tremont Institute to Middle Prong Trailhead

North Carolina

• Cataloochee Entrance Road

• NC Highway 284

• Twentymile

• Clingmans Dome Road

• Lakeview Drive

• Newfound Gap Road, from Smokemont to Newfound Gap

Facilities/Concession Operations

• Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center at Purchase Knob

• Appalachian Clubhouse

• Leconte Lodge

• Spence Cabin

• All Cades Cove facilities

The park said it will continue to monitor the storm and might announce additional closures for Sunday. You can find more information on the GSMNP's closure listing.