Weather News

Visitors beware: Raging winds and downed trees close roads in the Great Smoky Mountains

A slew of weather warnings in western North Carolina and Tennessee prompted park rangers in the Great Smoky Mountains to shut down roads on Halloween.

High winds threatening to bring down trees ahead of a cold front closed Highway 441 between Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is also closed.

“The current road closures will remain in effect until the High Wind Warning has expired,” park rangers said in a news release. “At that time, crews will reassess conditions and begin clearing roads for reopening.”

Rangers also discouraged hikers from entering the park, citing areas with dead trees that could be particularly dangerous.

The National Weather Service warned of several hazardous weather conditions in the region on Thursday afternoon, including wind, flooding and frost.

Winds at high elevations in the Great Smoky Mountains could reach between 25 mph and 45 mph, forecasters said.

“Gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects,” the advisory states. “Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result.”

Heavy rainfall could contribute to flooding until 8 p.m. Thursday with one to two inches expected, forecasters said. A freeze advisory is also in effect from 2 to 10 a.m. Friday.

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.