Great Smoky Mountains National Park is closing several roads ahead of a high wind warning and storms that are set to come through East Tennessee late Wednesday.
Just before 7 a.m. Wednesday, park officials announced the 8 a.m. closure of Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg and Cherokee, N.C. due to high wind gusts predicted later in the day. The park also announced that Cades Cove Loop Road was closed.
The park said the decision to close the roads was made because of the potential for hazardous conditions caused by downed trees and the increased risk of fire danger. The National Weather Service is expecting sustained winds between 35-45 mph gusts up to 80 mph.
The following roads will likely begin closing after 10 a.m. Wednesday:
Foothills Parkway West (from Chilhowee Lake to Wears Valley)
Foothills Parkway East.
The following roads are likely to begin closing after noon Wednesday:
Little River Road
Wear Cove Gap Road
Laurel Creek Road
Road closures may occur earlier than expected and additional roads may close as conditions warrant. The roads will remain closed until the high wind warning ends. Park officials will then assess the damage and begin clearing roads as necessary before reopening.
“Hikers are advised to avoid hiking during this period across the park, particularly in areas with standing dead trees,” the park said in a release. “Park visitor centers, campgrounds, and picnic areas remain open at this time. Visitors should exercise extreme caution when making travel plans.”
For the most up-to-date information about road closures, you can follow @SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.