Highest winds in three years leads Park Service to temporarily close US 441, Cades Cove Loop Road
From Staff Reports
The highest recorded winds in three years in Great Smoky Mountains National Park have temporarily closed U.S. 441 and Cades Cove Loop roads as of 11 a.m. today, according to the National Park Service.
Wind gusts of 100 miles per hour were recorded for Cove Mountain, said Molly Schroer of the Smokies public affairs office. “That is the highest recorded gusts in three years.”
“The wind increased from 6 a.m. today and it is expected to level off or drop down in the next few hours,” she said at 1:30 p.m. today.
U.S. 441 over the mountain from Gatlinburg to Cherokee and Cades Cove Loop Road were closed due to downed trees.
She said the road closures were put into effect so as not to put the visitors or staff in danger from falling trees.
“We will reopen the roads if we can,” she said. “We will assess trees downed, clear the roads and reopen them if safe.”
Colder weather and snow is expected tonight, with possibly some accumulation.
The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning for Blount County that remains in effect until 4 p.m. today, with a wind advisory to follow and remain in effect until 7 p.m. Friday.
A cold front will move eastward across the Tennessee Valley today, with strong southerly winds of 30 to 40 mph, with gusts to 60 mph, developing ahead of it. Winds will increase across the region with the strongest and possibly damaging winds expected over the foothills and higher elevations this afternoon. Winds will switch to the west to northwest tonight and remain strong and gusty -- 20 to 30 mph, with gusts to around 40 mph -- tonight through Friday.
Winds of this magnitude may cause property damage and power outages. In addition, high-profile vehicles should exercise caution around the mountains.
Base of mountain
Blount County Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap said that around 10:30 a.m. today trees started coming down across roads.
They are basically along the base of the mountain in the Old Chilhowee, Coning Road, Turkey Pin Branch, Dry Valley and Cameron Road area.
Alcoa Electric Service Supervisor Troy Morgan said they have been having trouble with trees over lines since before lunch. A couple of broken poles will have to be replaced and as of 2 p.m. there had been four or five small power outages.
They are currently cutting down a tree over the power line on Coning Road.
A Fort Loudoun Electric Cooperative crew is clearing trees over the power lines on Turkey Pen Branch Road.
A crew is currently on the way to a downed tree on John Luke Road in Walland.
“If it keeps raining we’re going to have intermittent cases all day,” Morgan said.