People from Blount County and worldwide now can take in views inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the comfort of their homes.
Recently installed webcams at Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome provide visitors with near real-time access to weather conditions and views from the highest elevations in the park.
The public can access images taken every 15 minutes, along with hourly information on temperature, humidity, wind speeds, precipitation and air quality, the park said in a statement.
The new webcams at Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap were installed last year, and staff have been testing the reliability and accessibility over the past several months.
The data is easily available online, providing visitors an opportunity to better prepare themselves for a park visit at high elevations where temperatures can be 10 to 20 degrees cooler than experienced at low elevations. Visitors can also check visibility and precipitation conditions to better determine viewing and traveling conditions.
In addition, the park has webcams at Look Rock, Purchase Knob and Twin Creeks.
“We’re excited to have this opportunity to collect and share timely weather and air quality conditions with park visitors, as well as those who simply want to experience Smokies views from wherever they are in the country,” said Jim Renfro, air quality specialist. “We’re hearing from many people that these views and weather conditions help them feel connected to the park even if they are very far away or have never had a chance to visit in person.”
Digital images, weather and air quality information from monitoring locations in the park are part of the National Park Service air quality web camera network, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and the PhenoCam Network, providing valuable long-term monitoring data.
The Clingmans Dome webcam is operated seasonally from late March through early December, weather depending, while the other cameras are operated throughout the year.
Funds to support the installation and annual operations for the webcams at Clingmans Dome and Newfound Gap are provided by Friends of the Smokies and the National Park Service Air Resources Division.
Other park partners helping to provide weather data and communication are Great Smoky Mountains Association, Tennessee Valley Authority, National Weather Service, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Environmental Protection Agency and Air Resource Specialists Inc.
To access webcam information, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/photosmulti media/webcams.htm.