[Updated] Appalachian Trail Reopens in South as Storm Passes
Updated 10 a.m. ET Sept. 19
The Appalachian Trail reopened in the South after the remnants of Hurricane Florence passed through the Southern Appalachians, lashing them with heavy rain that could cause flash flooding and mudslides.
The National Park Service on Tuesday reopened sections of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Virginia that had been closed since last week. Access into certain areas of the backcountry could still be affected by flooding or downed trees.
Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia reopened in its entirety.
Hikers heeded warnings last week to get off the trail, while hostels opened their doors for shelter and trail angels offered rides to safety.
Florence, once a powerful Category 4 hurricane, weakened to a tropical depression as it pounded the North and South Carolina coasts with wind and rain.
Rainfall could result in life-threatening flash flooding and river flooding, the National Hurricane Center said.
Landslides are also possible in the higher terrain of the southern and central Appalachians across western North Carolina into southwest Virginia, the center said.
Flash flood watches have been posted by the National Weather Service in a swath from northern South Carolina and North Carolina northward to parts of the mid-Atlantic and New England.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy advised hikers to continue monitoring conditions after the hurricane passes.
“Hikers are strongly encouraged to practice extreme caution and monitor weather sites such as the NOAA National Hurricane Center and this page for alerts and closures, and re-openings after the hurricane passes, assessments are conducted, and clean-up and trail repairs are completed,” the ATC said on its website.
“It is, given the circumstances, a good situation to find ourselves in. An affordable, comfortable hostel filled with hikers to commiserate with.”
Alexa Tubbs, a SOBO in Pennsylvania, described in her Trek blog the precautions she was taking in the face of the approaching storm.
“The idea is get to Duncannon before Friday when Hurricane Florence makes landfall and wait out the rest of the storm over the weekend with my trail family,” she said.
And hostels, in postings on Facebook AT trail groups, are offering shelter to hikers on the AT in the South.
“Stay safe out there friends. If you’re in the northern part of Shenandoah and need some help… we will for sure do what we can. Wonderland Hiker Refuge… Pm me if you need anything,” Lyric Underwood of Wonderland, ten miles north of Shenandoah National Park, posted on Facebook.
At Top of Georgia Hostel in northeast Georgia, Robert Gabrielsen said section hikers have cut their trips short and headed home. The hostel is in the projected path of the storm.
Western North Carolina and southwestern and central Virginia will be particularly susceptible to flooding because of far-above-normal rainfall in the region since May, the Washington Post reported.
In addition, the newspaper said, because the ground is likely to be saturated, trees will be vulnerable in strong winds.
Parts of the Mid-Atlantic, especially from Virginia to Pennsylvania, have received 150 to 300 percent of their normal rainfall since May, according to the Post.
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