Yellowstone National Park closes after record rainfall ravages roads

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Yellowstone National Park officials announced on Monday that all five entrances have been temporarily closed to visitors – including those with accommodation and camping reservations – after unprecedented rainfall created “extremely hazardous conditions”.

Photos and videos the park has uploaded to its Flickr account show brown water rolling over entire sections of road carved out after flooding, landslides and landslides. A combination of melting snow and heavy rains has raised river levels. The Yellowstone River in Corwin Springs, Montana rose 6 feet between Sunday and Monday to its highest level on record, several feet above the previous high note of 1918.

With more rain expected, the park is not expected to reopen until at least Wednesday.

“We won’t know when the park will reopen until the floodwaters subside and we’re able to assess the damage throughout the park,” Yellowstone National Park superintendent said. Cameron Sholly, in a statement.

Park officials say their first priority has been to evacuate the northern part of the park in the face of broken roads and bridges as well as mudslides. Later Monday they will begin moving visitors to the southern part of the park.

“We will continue to communicate about this dangerous situation as more information becomes available,” Sholly said.

Early assessments show that park roads have been washed out or covered in mud and rocks. For current road conditions in the park, visit the Park Roads website or text 82190-888-777 to get traffic alerts delivered to your phone.

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The rainfall has affected people in the area, such as the isolated community of Gardiner. Sholly said the park is working with state and county officials to support residents.

“We have so many communities in Montana right now that are flooded and without power and our hearts go out to them,” said Katrina Wiese, President and CEO of Destination Yellowstone.

Those planning to visit the park soon may want to postpone, Wiese said.

“We know the park is permanently closed for the next two days,” Wiese said. “And after that they have to wait for the waters to recede to see the impact and the damage – that will give them a better idea of ​​how long it will take to reopen the park.”

Periods of heavy rain have swept across the northern Rockies since the weekend as a plume of atmospheric moisture from the Pacific Ocean entered the region.

Known as the “atmospheric river,” the storm system produced record rainfall in parts of Washington and Oregon, including Seattle late last week. The Atmospheric River has been rated a Level 5 out of 5 by the Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes.

“It is remarkably unusual to have an AR5 [Category 5 atmospheric river] in June in the Northwest,” Marty Ralph, who runs the center, told the Capital Weather Gang.

The park’s precipitation measurements indicate that 2 to 3 inches have fallen over the past three days. The torrents were preceded by “unusually warm weather”, which melted snow in the highlands into rivers and streams, according to the National Weather Service.

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While record weather is an anomaly, it’s “becoming more and more common, especially for western parks, where there are issues with climate change,” said Alex Schnee, a travel expert from the national parks originally from Montana.

His advice for anyone considering a trip to the region is to plan with flexibility, whether it’s your travel dates or your general itinerary.

If unexpected events make it impossible to visit specific points of interest, “look for other options outside the park, because there are awesome things to see that are not necessarily in the park itself,” said Schnee, like exploring cities. like Bozeman and Butte or explore public land away from rivers and water sources.