Honey Badger questions ‘Who closes the roads?’

Thomas Mabry - Honey Badger ImagesOur Town Arts

Traveling in winter through the Southern Appalachians presents a historical anomaly: we really aren’t supposed to get that much snow and ice in the colder months, are we?

Well, roads are closed more than one thinks, and contrary to popular opinion, it’s not I-40/75 in Knoxville, but rather the highest elevations of the Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains. How many times do we hear that “US 441 over Newfound Gap is closed due to snow and ice?”

So, how do the authorities determine when to shut the gates? Obviously, the weather reports factor heavily in the decision, but they are not always accurate above 3500-feet elevation when near the freezing mark.

When we visited the Blue Ridge Parkway’s highest point at Richland Balsam (6053-feet) this past week, the road was open and snow and ice patches didn’t hinder traffic. All that changed rapidly.

The first photo that was taken at sunset was beautiful and snow free as far as one could see; the second one taken was in the midst of an unpredicted snow squall and 30-35 mph winds only 30 minutes later.

The decision to close the Parkway was never made that evening.

We went back the following day and America’s Favorite Drive’ was again open in that section.

So, who made the decision to leave it open? We will never know, but as fans of the ice and snow, we enjoyed every minute except when we nearly slid off the slick pavement which is the point of closing the roadway!

Thomas Mabry – Honey Badger Images

Many of the HoneyBadgerImages are on display at Instagram.com/honeybadgerimages


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