Smokies Experiencing Effects of Hurricane Irma

Great Smoky Mountains National Park began experiencing increased winds and rain associated with Hurricane Irma early Monday morning at higher elevations. At Clingmans Dome, the park’s highest point, sustained winds between 15 to 20 mph were recorded at 8:00 a.m. with gusts of 30 mph.
The current Wind Advisory issued by the National Weather Service indicates the park should expect sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts over 50 mph beginning Monday at 6:00 a.m. on the North Carolina side of the mountain and at 11:00 a.m. on the Tennessee side of the park. The strongest winds associated with the remnants of Hurricane Irma should be expected beginning Monday at 2:00 p.m. through 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
“We have stepped up our preparedness level to give our visitors and staff the time it takes to safely exit the park, said Chief Ranger Steve Kloster. “Evacuating the park is a timely process and we want to ensure our visitors and staff are not in the backcountry or on the roadways when the worst of the winds arrive.”
Main thoroughfares throughout the park, such as Newfound Gap Road, the Spur, the Bypass, and Little River Road from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Metcalf will remain open unless the park determines they are unsafe for travel.  For more information about road conditions on these main park roadways, please follow Twitter at SmokiesRoadsNPS or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm.
UPDATE:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials will close Newfound Gap Road and Little River Road on Monday, September 11 at 5:00 p.m.  due to high winds moving through the area associated with Hurricane Irma. The park has experienced rain and strong winds across ridges of the higher elevations throughout the day.
From 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., sustained winds at Clingmans Dome were 30 mph with gusts up to 58 mph. At Cove Mountain, sustained winds were 23 mph with gusts up to 38 mph for the same time period. The strongest winds associated with the remnants of Hurricane Irma are expected to occur now through Tuesday morning at 3:00 a.m.
Sugarlands Visitor Center, Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and Administrative facilities closed at noon today. The Spur and Bypass will remain open at this time. For more information about road conditions on these main park roadways, please follow Twitter at SmokiesRoadsNPS or visit the park website at www.nps.gov/grsm.