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VOL. 41 | NO. 36 | Friday, September 08, 2017

Irma causes road closures in Great Smoky Mountains park

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GATLINBURG (AP) — Great Smoky Mountains National Park authorities are discouraging people from visiting as what is now Tropical Storm Irma is expected to bring inclement weather to the area.

Local news outlets report that officials announced on Saturday the majority of roads in the park would be closed. Park spokeswoman Jamie Sanders says sustained winds of 40 mph (60 kph) are anticipated with gusts faster than that. Park meteorologists also expect 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) of rain.

Visitors with reservations for both backcountry and front-country campsites can have their fees refunded.

Sanders says that similar conditions in the past have caused significant flooding in the park's roadways and campgrounds. She says the park doesn't want visitors and employees in a potentially dangerous situation as the storm is coming.