Snow falls in Smokies; roads closed

Snow falls in Smokies; roads closed

Posted: Updated:
Snow in the Newfound Gap area. Snow in the Newfound Gap area.
Highway 441 reopened briefly on Monday before closing again because of snow and ice. Highway 441 reopened briefly on Monday before closing again because of snow and ice.
"Awesome. Totally awesome. It's my first time," said Mathis. "Awesome. Totally awesome. It's my first time," said Mathis.
Park officials worked to keep hikers safe who were already in the mountains before the snow fell. Park officials worked to keep hikers safe who were already in the mountains before the snow fell.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Cold air streaming down from the north, combined with moisture and winds from Hurricane Sandy, brought snow to higher elevations of East Tennessee.

Snow began to fall in higher elevations of Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sunday night.

U.S. Highway 441 was closed around 8:00 p.m. Sunday and reopened briefly midday on Monday before closing again around 3:00 p.m.

According to the National Park Service, Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome Road remained closed through Monday night.

Loads of people flocked to the best sight-seeing spots in the Smokies to take in the breathtaking, snow-covered views.

"Hello, it's beautiful, I love it," said one visitor.

The highest elevations saw more than seven inches of snow, like Mt. LeConte and Clingmans Dome. There were four to five inches here in Newfound Gap.

"It's like a winter wonderland," said another visitor.

The snow was an unexpected treat from one visitor from Florida who had never laid eyes on snow.

"Awesome. Totally awesome. It's my first time. Two days ago we were up here and the autumn leaves were beautiful and now this," said Melody Mathis of Tampa.

One visiting couple made it a snowfall they'd never forget with a proposal, marking the start of their new life together.

The snowfall came so fast, not everyone was exactly prepared for it.

Park officials said it wasn't an unusual time to get snow, but it was unusual to get that amount so early in the season.

"For the month of October, the average is usually two inches. Just in this one event, we had seven inches," said Dana Soehn, Public Affairs Representative of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service.

They worked to keep hikers safe who were already in the mountains before the snow fell.

"We have about 50 people in the backcountry right now that have permits along the Appalachian Trail, so we're trying to get the best information to them to make sure they're prepared for these conditions," said Soehn.

6 News found several hikers who were digging their way out of the snow.

"We made the reservations a year ago, so we didn't know it was going to be eight inches of snow," said hiker Karl Edgar, visiting from North Carolina.

They were hiking out just after the bulk of the snow fell.

"There were no other footprints there at all, so we had a hard time finding where the trail was coming back out," said Tammy Edgar.

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