Hikers warned as winter weather heads towards Smoky Mountains

Hikers warned as winter weather heads towards Smoky Mountains

Posted:
With temperatures in the mid 50s, lots of visitors took the opportunity to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. With temperatures in the mid 50s, lots of visitors took the opportunity to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather.
By midnight, that's all going to change with temperatures dropping at least 20 degrees. By midnight, that's all going to change with temperatures dropping at least 20 degrees.
"You have to keep layers on because if it's hot, you can take something off. We've been up here before when it started snowing on the mountain," said Sandra Booth (right.) "You have to keep layers on because if it's hot, you can take something off. We've been up here before when it started snowing on the mountain," said Sandra Booth (right.)
The back country office says they have several campers out in the back country. The forecast is written on a board in the office every day as a reminder what the temperatures are in the low elevations as well as the high elevations. The back country office says they have several campers out in the back country. The forecast is written on a board in the office every day as a reminder what the temperatures are in the low elevations as well as the high elevations.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) – The Booth family picked a picture-perfect day to go hiking in the Smokies on Tuesday.

"It's beautiful today," said Sandra Booth, who was visiting with her husband Eric from Salem, Va. "We're going to do the little trail over to one of the falls, then we'll come back and do part of Leconte," added her husband.

With temperatures in the mid 50s, lots of visitors took the opportunity to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. By midnight, that's all going to change with temperatures dropping at least 20 degrees.

"This is the type of day people get in trouble in terms of the weather because it's such a beautiful day in the low elevation. It's clear and sunny and they see rain in the forecast for the low elevations, but that's probably not what we're going to see in the high elevations," warned Caitlin Worth, spokesperson for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Booths say they're prepared, knowing just how quickly the weather can change. 

"You have to keep layers on because if it's hot, you can take something off. We've been up here before when it started snowing on the mountain," said Sandra Booth.

The real concern is for the hikers going into the back country and staying overnight.

"We always try to warn hikers that are going for more than one day into the back country what the outlook is for the weather in the future days," said Worth.

The back country office says they have several campers out in the back country. The forecast is written on a board in the office every day as a reminder what the temperatures are in the low elevations as well as the high elevations.

Earlier this month during the last storm, three hikers had to be rescued because they weren't prepared for the weather.

"When we see a search and rescue incidents especially in the winter time it always serves the public as a reminder how ever changing our weather is here in this park," said Worth.

The low elevations are expected to get one inch of snow or less, while the higher elevations could see up to four inches. Park officials say they will begin treating the roads Tuesday night. They can't salt the roads in the mountains because of concern of contaminating the streams but they will lay sand and gravel down.  

As usual with a winter event in the Smokies, be prepared for some road closures, especially in the usual areas like Newfound Gap.

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