Main route through Smokies closed ahead of expected snow, ice

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (WVLT) -- The main road connecting Gatlinburg to Cherokee, N.C., is closing tonight ahead of a storm expected to bring snow and ice.

The park service tweeted plans to close U.S. Highway 441/Newfound Gap Road at 8 p.m. Friday. The park plans to have road crews on hand 24/7 this weekend to keep the spur open between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. They'd originally planned to keep Newfound Gap Road passable as well, but decided later to close it.

Heavy traffic is expected in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because it's a long holiday weekend. The park services is cautioning drivers that just because a road is open doesn't mean it's not icy.

"We remind people about that elevation change," said Dana Soehn with the Great Smoky Mountains. "Even if the roads are safe and ice-free where you're at, as soon as you head up the mountain you can come across a patch of ice."

There could be 20-degree temperature changes between the lowest and highest elevations in the park.