By Nathan Baker
Recent heavy rains have once again left the Tennessee Valley Authority dealing with near-record lake levels throughout the area and have prompted the U.S. Forest Service to close local recreation areas as waters cover lakeside roads.
The Forest Service announced Friday that the Shook Branch Swim Area and the lakeside loop road at the Watauga Point Recreational Area, both in Hampton, are temporarily closed until waters recede and again allow safe travel into and out of the facilities.
Rangers reported that the sudden 5.5-foot rise in the level of the Watauga Lake submerged part of the roads, making passage dangerous.
The TVA is predicting lake levels will remain high through the weekend, dousing the hopes of those planning to visit the areas this weekend.
According to the Forest Service, lake levels are high at the Rat Branch and Little Milligan boat launches in Carter County and the Sink Mountain Boat Launch in Johnson County, but they remain open for use.