Though the ice and snow of this past week has been a beautiful site, visitors to the National Forests in North Carolina should be extremely cautious around ice formations that will be thawing as temperatures increase this week.
Large slabs of hanging ice and icicles on cliffs and waterfalls will fail and fall and could cause serious injury or death to those in the immediate vicinity. Ice that had frozen over streams is thinning and is not safe to walk across in most areas.
Falling trees and branches are an ever-present hazard; the addition of snow and ice makes tree failure more likely. The freeze-thaw cycle can loosen rocks which can roll onto roads and trails. Motorists and hikers should also be aware of the potential for icy conditions on shaded areas of roads and trails. Take into account that thawing roads, roadsides, and trails are more susceptible to rutting and choose activities that minimize the potential for damage.
Many roads remain snow-covered and icy due to colder temperatures at high elevations. While gates may be open, drivers should not assume that roads are safe for travel.
- Avoid traveling alone. If you must travel alone, share your plans. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
- Know your limits and choose activities that are appropriate for your physical condition and skills.
- Use appropriate tires and footwear and adjust your speed where there is snow or ice.
- Carry emergency kits containing water, food, blankets, and matches.
- Bring extra clothing in case you get wet.
Visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r8/recreation/safety-ethics for more outdoor safety tips.