All entrances to Yellowstone National Park are temporarily closed due to ‘extremely hazardous conditions’
(CNN) — Yellowstone National Park announced Monday all entrances are temporarily closed due to “extremely hazardous conditions” caused by “unprecedented” rainfall and flooding.
“Effective immediately, all entrances to Yellowstone National Park are temporarily CLOSED due to substantial flooding, rockslides and mudslides on roadways from recent unprecedented amounts of rainfall and flooding,” the park said in a Facebook post.
No inbound traffic is allowed “until the conditions stabilize and the park can assess damage to roads and bridges,” the post added. The North, Northeast, West, South and East entrances are all closed.
The park posted a situation update on its website Monday afternoon saying that no inbound visitor traffic would be allowed on Tuesday or Wednesday “at a minimum.”
“Our first priority has been to evacuate the northern section of the park where we have multiple road and bridge failures, mudslides and other issues,” superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement.
Visitors will be evacuated from the southern loop of the park starting later on Monday due to anticipated higher flood levels and concerns with water and wastewater systems, the statement said.
The northern loop is likely to be closed “for a substantial amount of time,” and the park’s reopening will be determined after flood waters recede and damage is assessed.
Park staff is working with the county and state to provide support to residents of Gardiner, Montana, a town just north of the park that is currently isolated by the dangerous conditions, the statement said.
Multiple portions of the park are also experiencing power outages, the park said in its postings.
“With additional rainfall forecasted, the park does not want large numbers of day-use visitors stranded in the park,” the park said on Facebook and its website.
According to National Park Service data from 2014 to 2018, more than 780,000 people typically visit the park in June.
“The river has never been this high before by my house,” said Elizabeth Aluck, a resident of Gardiner, which serves as a gateway for visitors.
As of Monday afternoon, Aluck said she was unable to evacuate because roads and bridges in the area are washed out.
Travelers with plans to visit Yellowstone National Park in the coming weeks should monitor road conditions, the park advised.
‘Things have gotten rougher’
A family staying at a short-term rental house in Gardiner near the park entrance is now unable to leave their rental cabin due to flooding in the area.
Indiana couple Melissa and Parker Manning told CNN they arrived at their rental on Saturday with their family, and expected to leave Monday morning.
“That’s not happening any time soon,” Parker Manning said. “The water levels were high on Saturday but within the past 10-12 hours things have gotten rougher.”
The couple joined a call with emergency management officials Monday afternoon. Officials on the call suggested local businesses consider food rationing, just in case.
Manning said they did go to the grocery store, and everyone was being smart about what to stock up on and not panicking.
“Our way out of town would be north on 89, but those roads are currently all underwater,” Manning said.
The couple has no idea when they will be able to leave the town, but Manning hopes it will be within the next 48 hours.
The host of their rental was very understandable of the situation, Manning added.
Avoid streams and creeks
Earlier Monday, the park said in a news release roads in the northern portion of the park would be temporarily closed for “an extended period of time” before posting the wider closure.
“Preliminary assessments show multiple sections of road in the park have been washed out between Gardiner and Cooke City, Montana, and multiple bridges may be affected,” the release said, adding visitors in the northern portion are being evacuated.
The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the park on Monday and advised campers and hikers to avoid streams and creeks.
“Turn around, don’t drown when encountering flooded roads,” the NWS cautioned those in vehicles.
Mammoth, Osprey Falls, Indian Creek Campground and Lava Creek Campgrounds, all located in the park, are locations expected to experience floods, the weather service said.
The Yellowstone River reached record-high levels Monday in the Montana towns of Corwin Springs and Livingston.
At Corwin Springs, the river rose more than 5 feet on Monday morning, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration river gauge data. The gauge reading was 13.85 feet on Monday afternoon, surpassing the historical high crest of 11.5 feet from 1918.
The river gauge reading at Livingston was a record 10.9 feet.
June precipitation has been more than 400% of average across northwestern Wyoming and southern Montana, according to CNN meteorologists.
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