Two straight years of record setting rainfall has brought a considerable amount of rainfall and flooding to the Sevier County area.
While two straight years of flooding is not enough to create a trend, it rains enough the rest of the year that knowing how floods may affect your vacation would be handy. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know before you go.
1 – You’ll probably be fine
Most of the hotels in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are far enough away from the rivers and streams that the likelihood of your room being affected is fairly slim. The exceptions to this would be some of the campgrounds on the water’s edge and some of the hotels along the river in Gatlinburg. Check with your specific facility if you have a concern and, if the hotel is near water; ask about flood policies before booking your room.
2 – Follow road information
The main road should mostly be fine. But Twitter is a great way to stay up-to-date on the latest road happenings in Sevier County, the National Park and in East Tennessee in general. Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson Mark Nagi (@MarkNagiTDOT) is a must follow for the latest road conditions. Nagi is good about responding to specific questions, but before you bother him, check out the website smartway.tn.gov. Another must follow for Twitter is @SmokiesRoadsNPS, the official National Park Service feed for the Smokies.
3 – Be safe
It’s common sense, but if water is running over the road, don’t be chancin’ it. Water rises quickly in the mountains and if you’re trying to ford a stream, it can be higher than you expected very quickly. This goes for when you’re outside of your vehicle as well. Going tubing or kayaking when the water is high is an entirely different animal. Listen to the local experts before trying to ride abnormally high water. Rivers and streams that are normally fun can turn dangerous quickly. The same goes for wading or swimming. Be safe. Exercise caution. Hand-feeding marshmallows to a bear is not the only way people earn Darwin Awards in the Smokies.
4 – It’s different in the mountains
If you’re staying in a cabin or a chalet up in the mountains, everything changes. Because of the angle of repose near some of the smaller roadways at higher elevations, rockslides and mudslides can be common. In addition, some of the places can be tricky to reach even in good weather. During a rainy spell, it’s smart to ask the property owner if a 4-wheel drive is recommended before booking the room.
Remember, everything is different in the mountains. Water will accumulate quickly but it will also move downstream quickly. If there’s flooding in the area of your vacation, don’t panic. Talk to management, keep abreast of upcoming weather reports and be ready to be a little flexible. Most places want your business year after year so they’ll be willing to work with you if Mother Nature gets out of line. The most important thing to remember is safety first. It might hurt to lose a day of vacation or two to inclement weather, but it’s better than risking yourself or your family.