Wintry Weather Cause Temporary Closure of Mt Mitchell

2:46 PM, Oct 23, 2013   |    comments
  • Elk Knob State Park, near Boone (Photo: Gene Staley)
  • Mount Mitchell State Park
    
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When Lisa Crane got to work at Mount Mitchell State Park this morning, it was 30 degrees and spritzing sleet. Then things got progressively worse.

By 9 a.m., the sleet was really coming down on the park north of Asheville in Yancey County - the highest park in the Eastern United States.

"We closed the park road temporarily about 9-10 a.m.," Crane said. "There was a bunch of sleet coming down and covered the roadway. It's 29 degrees with winds of 47 mph. Winter has arrived on Mount Mitchell."

But now, the road will be closed all day. The entire road is closed for sleet and ice.

Superintendent Bryan Wilder will keep the park road, N.C. 128, closed for safety. N.C. 128, starts at Milepost 355 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and travels 5 miles, gaining more than 1,500 feet in elevation, to the summit. The Mount Mitchell summit is 6,684 feet - the highest peak east of the Mississippi.

The park is open, (although you'll have to hike in, since the road is closed) so you might want to scoot up there for a last look at the stunning mountainsides before it falls prey to the snow and ice that always comes early at those elevations.

Snow is expected tonight.

The parkway, however, is "sunny and beautiful," Crane said. It is also open for travel through the Asheville area, and up to Boone, but is closed for road failure north of Boone, from Milepost 276-281.

For more updates and fall color report.

Gene Staley of Asheboro shared a picture with WFMY News 2 of he snow. He captured the picture while he was hiking at Elk Knob State Park, just north of Boone, this morning. Staley said it starting snowing and by the time he reached the summit the ground was getting rather white, but then just as little later it stop and the sun starting peaking through.

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