November ice storm still impacting Skyline Drive

It’s been three weeks since the November 2018 ice and snow storm struck Rappahannock County — and more severely neighboring Shenandoah National Park — and yet Skyline Drive to our south remains closed due to downed trees — 1,000-plus and counting.

Shenandoah National Park crews have been working non-stop for three weeks to clear trees from Skyline Drive, which has remained closed from Swift Run Gap to Rockfish Gap because of the mid-November ice and snow storm. Courtesy of Shenandoah National Park

The park’s south district — mile 65.5 to mile 105, Swift Run Gap to Afton — was hardest hit by the early season storm and has remained closed.

“Crews have been working steadily, but it is slow going and the additional rain and fog are hindering efforts,” stated the park, observing that “crews have cut approximately 700 trees between miles 65 and 80, and an additional 200 between miles 102 and 105.”

As for the remaining stretches of Skyline Drive “initial estimates indicate 100 down trees per mile,” says the park, with closures in effect all the way south to Rockfish Gap.

“Once the road is cleared of down trees, crews will still need to assess overhanging limbs and chip trees that have been dragged to the shoulder,” it added.

In the meantime, park visitors should be on the lookout for hanging limbs and fallen trees across trails.

“Volunteers with our partner, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, are working on trails, but with the magnitude of this storm, many may still be blocked or hazardous. Please use extra caution and be prepared to turn back.”

Yesterday, wouldn’t you know, all of Skyline Drive was closed due to new snow and ice.

— John McCaslin

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