View Full Version : What is the weather damage like at GSNP Great Smokies?

07-06-2012, 16:20
What is the weather damage like at GSNP Great Smokies? I will be at NewFound Gap on Sunday and I am worried about the trail being passable.

07-06-2012, 16:37
From what I'm reading, the western portion of the park was the hardest hit. You should be fine.

07-06-2012, 18:16
What is the weather damage like at GSNP Great Smokies? I will be at NewFound Gap on Sunday and I am worried about the trail being passable.

You heading to fontana or davenport gap?

07-06-2012, 18:42
Call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1231 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

07-06-2012, 18:43
call the park.
serious damage and deaths
some park s road still closed

SGT Rock
07-06-2012, 19:26
This is always a good place to check: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm

07-07-2012, 12:35
You heading to fontana or davenport gap? North Bound !

07-08-2012, 18:17
Any more news on the storm damage? I tried looking some news up on google but there isn't much.

07-08-2012, 18:29
I was at Tri-Corner shelter when it hit. All it did was rain heavy for a couple of hours. Wind was not that bad. We had no idea until the next afternoon anything serious had even happened. I doubt you'll have any trouble.

07-09-2012, 11:22
We were coming across Cligmans Dome at 6:15 on Thursday when the storm hit. Heading southbound on the AT. High winds and hard rain. made it to Double Spring Gap shelter with no significant obstructions. Continued south to the AT Miry Ridge juction on Friday with just a few small trees down nothing major at all. Miry Ridge and jakes Creek trails were pretty clear. Campsite 26 was dry (no water). When we got to Elkmont there were several trees down and powerlines were down. The rangers had the road from Elkmont to Cades Cove Blocked. We saw a few other hikers on the trails Friday and Saturday but no back country rangers.

07-09-2012, 15:32
Didn't see this latest information on wb yet; sorry if I missed it.


Full update on storm damage from NPS:

Storm Damage, Casualties, Property Damage, Closures

At about 6 p.m. on Thursday July 5th a line of extraordinarily severe and fast moving thunderstorm cells struck the western half of the park and the surrounding communities generating wind gusts in excess of 70 mph.

Within minutes thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of trees fell on the road and trail system. Hardest hit areas in the frontcountry stretched from Metcalf Bottoms to Abrams Creek including Cades Cove and the Foothills Parkway West sections of the park.

Thousands of campers and motorists became stranded within three campgrounds and the network of roads in the western half of the park. With very little cell phone coverage available within the park, reports of medical emergencies and vehicle occupant entrapments started coming in to the park’s communications center via OnStar (and equivalent) and direct notifications to park staff in various sections of the park. Under NPS ICS command, a large interagency SAR response was mobilized, based out of a command post established just outside the park in Townsend, TN.

Hampering efforts to rescue victims at incident sites scattered throughout the northwest section of the park included: extensive road blockages by trees and sometimes downed power lines both within the park and the surrounding communities; loss of power to two radio repeater sites serving this section of the park; overwhelmed 9-1-1 and park communications centers; a heavy incident load throughout Blount County stressing all emergency services departments; and prevailing poor weather conditions preventing air operations at Cades Cove.

Despite this, invaluable assistance was provided by all of the emergency services departments within the county plus a SAR response team from the city of Knoxville. Through the response of heavy roads equipment and chain saw crews from the park and outside agencies, access was established to all victims and stranded motorists within seven hours of the storm event.

Summary of the significant EMS/SAR incidents follows:

The operator of a motorcycle was struck in the head on Little River Road by a falling tree limb and died at the scene. His passenger was not significantly injured. He was identified as Ralph Frazier, 50, from Buford, GA.

Two parties of visitors were at a swimming hole on the Cooper Road Trail about one quarter mile from Abrams Creek Campground. They had exited the water as the storm approached but when the winds hit, trees started crashing down around them. They sought refuge back in the stream where there were few nearby trees. A large tree 50 feet from the stream fell striking all seven individuals comprising the two parties. One party consisted of a 41-year old woman from Corrytown, TN named Rachel Burkhart. She was killed on impact while her friend sustained only minor injuries.

The other party was a family group of five. A 7-year old girl suffered a fractured pelvis and became entrapped under water. Her father sustained severe injuries, her mother moderate injuries, and her grandparents minor injuries. The least injured was the grandfather who worked for an estimated two to three minutes to free the child and bring her to shore, by which time she was in respiratory arrest. Despite the fact that her mother sustained three fractures to one arm and two fractures to her other wrist and hand, she successfully revived her daughter with rescue breaths.

The father was immobile in the water for about two hours until rescuers could gain access to the scene. The child and father were taken to an LZ and flown to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. He was found to have suffered two fractured vertebrae, nine broken ribs, one collapsed lung and the other punctured. The mother and grandmother were transported by ambulance to UT. The grandmother was treated and released and the mother admitted for surgery.

A male visitor sustained a back injury when he was struck by a falling tree near the Cades Cove Methodist Church. He was back-boarded, moved to shelter, and attended to by a ranger for several hours until ambulances could gain access to Cades Cove. He was transported to Blount Memorial Hospital.

A male motorist in Cades Cove sustained injury to both eyes from shattered glass when a tree limb struck his windshield. A park medic ranger provided initial treatment until he could be evacuated by ambulance to Blount Memorial.

Cades Cove rangers also responded to an elderly female visitor who was experiencing a possible heart attack when the storm struck. She was stabilized and eventually transported to Blount Memorial.

Cades Cove rangers also monitored a woman pregnant at 32 weeks experiencing contractions. Still not in full labor when the ambulances arrived, she was transported by POV behind the ambulances.

A domestic dispute between a married couple camped at Cades Cove escalated in the aftermath of the storm when they learned they were stranded together. According to witness reports, the husband choked his wife until she was unconscious and the physical intervention by a family member. She was also treated at the ranger station and eventually transported by ambulance to Blount Memorial. Rangers arrested the husband late that evening and transported him to the county jail.

Rescue teams worked for hours to gain access to a section of the Little River Road where a report was relayed of vehicle occupants entrapped by rock fall with unknown injuries. Upon arrival to the area, motorists from several vehicles damaged from rock fall or falling trees had taken shelter under a rock overhang. Despite some close calls, none suffered significant injury.

Through a series of caravans beginning late Thursday night, low profile vehicles and—by Friday afternoon—RV’s were able to leave the Cades Cove area (both campers and day-trippers).

The American Red Cross set up an emergency shelter Thursday evening in Townsend for visitors stranded by damaged or trapped vehicles or separated from their campsites.

The incident has received a high level of national media interest through Saturday night.

Road and facility closures in the aftermath of the storm included the following:

Little River Road from the Elkmont Road junction to the Townsend Wye, including Metcalf Bottoms picnic area.
Laurel Creek Road.
Cades Cove area roads and facilities, including Rich Mountain and Parson Branch Roads.
Foothills Parkway West, including Look Rock Campground.
Abrams Creek Road and Campground.
Tremont Road.

Storm Damage Assessment and Restoration of Services/Facilities

A Herculean effort by park Facility Management Division staff and heavy roads equipment, supported by personnel from other divisions and an emergency contract for a dozen dump trucks, had by Saturday night resulted in reopening the following roads and facilities:

Laurel Creek Road.
All Cades Cove facilities including the Loop Road (but not Rich Mountain or Parson Branch Roads).
Foothills Parkway West and Look Rock Campground.
Little River Road from the Elkmont Road junction to Metcalf Bottoms, including Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area.
Tremont Road from the Townsend Wye to the Tremont Institute.

It will likely be days before all frontcountry roads and facilities shall be reopened.

Though numerous private vehicles were damaged or destroyed, no notable damage to historic structures, or government, cooperator, or concessions property has yet been discovered.

On Saturday, park staff began trail assessments. Preliminary findings are that thousands of trees have fallen along hundreds of miles of trails throughout the western half of the park. The worst damage is likely to be in the northwest section of the park which includes the Cades Cove area.

Park staff has begun implementing numerous full or partial trail and backcountry campsite closures as damage assessments have become available. Some reports indicate major damage to numerous trail segments from uprooted trees.