Smokies campers urged to use caution during severe weather

Smokies campers urged to use caution during severe weather

Posted:
Tuesday afternoon was sunny in the Smokies, but strong storms were forecasted for later in the day. Tuesday afternoon was sunny in the Smokies, but strong storms were forecasted for later in the day.
Tents and RVs certainly are not the sturdy shelters recommended, so park officials say the best place to take shelter is in a restroom. Tents and RVs certainly are not the sturdy shelters recommended, so park officials say the best place to take shelter is in a restroom.
They also say when the warnings start getting close to home they will warn people, sometimes telling them it might be safest to leave, though that decision is ultimately left to the campers. They also say when the warnings start getting close to home they will warn people, sometimes telling them it might be safest to leave, though that decision is ultimately left to the campers.
By WHITNEY GOOD
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - We are all told to seek sturdy shelter during severe weather, but what if that is not an option? That is the case for many people who are camping and caught in storms.

Tuesday afternoon was sunny in the Smokies, but strong storms were forecasted for later in the day.

After the strong storms that moved through Monday night, 6 News wanted to take a look at exactly what campers should do and what the national park's policies are when severe storms hit.

"I just thought, 'Well, here it comes,' because you could hear the wind picking up," said camper Donna Schifler.

When Monday night's storms blew through, Jeff and Donna Schifler, like many other campers in the Smokies, were caught wondering where to go if it got too severe.

"When you live in your motor home like we do, you really don't have a choice but to stay with the weather," said Jeff Schifler.

Tents and RVs certainly are not the sturdy shelters recommended, but park officials say they do have a few plans in place to help keep people safe.

"The most structurally sound shelter is going to be the restroom, and when the campgrounds are really busy that would be a tough thing to accommodate a lot of people," said park spokesperson Caitlin Worth.

They also say when the warnings start getting close to home they will warn people, sometimes telling them it might be safest to leave, though that decision is ultimately left to the campers.

The Schiflers say they will stick it out rain or shine.

"I'm just looking around like I bet these mountains will protect us so we got lucky. I don't know about tonight, but I'm hoping," said Donna Schifler.

Park officials say because no warnings were issued for the park area Monday night, they did not go through the campgrounds and warn the campers of the impending storm.

They say since most people are without cell phone service or any way to see the forecast they write each day's forecast on a board in the campgrounds' main offices.

They also say if there is a severe flooding threat they will try to move the campers to higher ground.
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