Yellowstone National Park Closes All Entrances Due to Hazardous Conditions

Yellowstone National Park has closed all park entrances to inbound traffic due to hazardous conditions caused by record rainfall and flooding, according to NPS. The park will be closed, and the timing of the park’s reopening will be determined when damage can be assessed. Snowmelt and record rainfall have triggered flooding and rockslides, which have caused substantial damage to roads and bridges in the northern part of the park. Continued rainfall threatens roads in the southern portion of the park as well. Current park visitors and tourists in the communities north of the park are being evacuated, and residents are receiving aid from the Montana government. For pictures of the flooding and damage, see here.

Record Rainfall Leads to Flooding

Heavy rains combined with spring snowmelt to trigger unprecedented flooding in Yellowstone and surrounding areas. To put this in perspective, the average yearly rainfall in Yellowstone is around 20 inches over around 150 days of rain, which averages 0.13 inches per rainy day. According to the New York Times, 1.37 inches of rainfall fell on Yellowstone Lake on Sunday, beating a previous record from 2005 of o.5 inches.

“The combination of anywhere from 0.8 to over 5 inches of rain and 2 to 5 inches of snow-water equivalent melt from June 10-13th led to unprecedented flooding across the Absarokas and Beartooths. This led to flooding rarely or never seen before across many area rivers and streams,” said the National Weather Service,

According to NBC, at Corwin Springs, the Yellowstone River measured 13.88 feet, over two feet over a previous record set in 1918.

A home collapsing into the Yellowstone River in Gardiner, Montana was caught on video by Parker Manning, and broadcast by NBC.

A Year of Fire and Water on the CDT

While the CDT does not traverse the areas of Northern and Eastern Yellowstone that have sustained the most damage so far, continued rainfall may lead to more flooding in the Southern and Western sections of the park. Park closures may affect section and flip-flop hikers that were hoping to hike soon, and depending on the reopening date, closures may also affect SOBO and NOBO hikers.

This flooding comes almost a month after many CDT hikers had to skip much of New Mexico due to extreme fire danger. All National Forests in New Mexico have been closed since May 29th.

Fire and other extreme weather events have been increasingly affecting hiker itineraries over the past decade. As hikers continue to see the impacts of climate change, they may need to have more flexible hiking plans and be ready to pivot based on heat, fire, snow, or flooding.

Featured image via Krista Diamond.

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