Yellowstone National Park flooding: Northern parts may remain closed for ‘extended period of time’

“Many sections of the road in (the northern section) have completely disappeared and will require significant time and effort to rebuild,” a press release from the park said. “…it is likely that road sections in North Yellowstone will not reopen this season due to the time needed for repairs.”

Serious flooding from torrential rain and rapid thaw began to hit the park and many counties in southern Montana Monday, washing away or eroding roads and bridges and causing extensive damage to homes and businesses.

The park on Monday closed all five entrances to Yellowstone in Montana and Wyoming to incoming traffic — in part to prevent stranded people due to deteriorating conditions — without setting a specific date for their reopening.

Park officials have told visitors who are already there to leave — more than 10,000 have left the park since Monday, park director Cam Scholey said on Tuesday.

CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said that although cold temperatures and dry weather allowed some parts of the swollen rivers to begin to recede, higher temperatures are expected later this week and into the end of the week, which could cause More snowmelt runoff and therefore more flooding.

“There will be no indoor traffic for visitors at any of the five entrances to the park, including visitors with stay and camping reservations, until conditions improve and the park’s infrastructure is assessed,” the park’s statement read.

Rapidly deteriorating road conditions in Yellowstone led to appalling evacuation conditions for some visitors, including the parents of CNN’s supervising producer Tim Carter, who had to make their way across a compromised bridge.

“When we were getting past it, it was really scary because the water was running wildly around the bridge,” said Martha Carter. “We later found out that it had faded.”

Meanwhile, some communities were left without electricity or safe drinking water because flood conditions made travel impossible or unsafe and weakened the water supply.

Montana Government. Greg Gianforte declared a statewide disaster Tuesday and announce He will seek an urgent presidential disaster declaration to help cover recovery costs.

Since the rescue effort began Monday, the Montana National Guard has evacuated at least ten people stranded in Roscoe, Fromberg and Cook City, the force said in a press release.

Serious flooding is just one of several extreme weather events affecting communities across the United States, including a severe heat wave affecting more than 100 million people, and severe storms that have cut power for hundreds of thousands in the Midwest and Ohio River Valley. .

Massive floods prompted evacuations and rescue operations

Rapidly rising water levels inundated homes, businesses and infrastructure in southern Montana on Monday, forcing many families to evacuate. But for some, roads and bridges became impassable due to the flood, leaving them trapped, sometimes without clean drinking water or electricity.

The Montana National Guard deployed four helicopters to assist with evacuations in affected areas on Monday and Tuesday and also sent soldiers to the city of Red Lodge to establish a command center and aid in search and rescue efforts, the force said Tuesday.

A helicopter company in Montana has moved about 40 people from Gardiner, the city that serves as the gateway to the park’s northern entrance and has been cut off by flooding, Rocky Mountain Routers’ Laura Jones told CNN.

The road from Livingston to Gardiner reopened on Tuesday to local traffic and goods and services, but there was still “significant damage,” Park County Police Chief Brad Pichler said at a press conference.

The flood waters quickly washed away the highway between Gardiner and Mammoth.

Heavy rain and snow runoff over the weekend in the Beartooth and Absaroka mountain ranges, which stretch across the Montana-Wyoming border, caused a “total water event of at least 4 to 9 inches,” the Billings National Weather Service reported Tuesday. .

This amount of runoff is similar to an area that receives 2 to 3 months of precipitation in June in just three days, according to CNN Weather calculations. Conditions caused the Yellowstone River, which runs through the park and many of the local communities, to engulf the Yellowstone River.

The Yellowstone River gauge in Corwin Springs reached 13.88 feet Monday afternoon, according to NOAA data, but had regressed to 9.34 feet by Tuesday night.

Apsaruki resident Tracey Blanchek and her husband had just reached their long-awaited goal of getting a brand new home when the threat of a flood forced them to evacuate. Now, she told CNN, she desperately hopes to avoid the destruction seen in other homes, some of which have been washed away.

A road near the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park was badly damaged by flooding.

“(We weren’t) able to buy a new home,” she said. “It’s sitting on top of the driveway and hopefully our house will be there by a miracle from God.”

The National Park Service said in a news release that park officials have ordered all visitors to exit accommodations and campgrounds and leave the park to prevent anyone from becoming stranded. Shuli said the park averaged 15,000 to 20,000 visitors in June.

The park has also closed off the Yellowstone backcountry and has been in contact with groups in the area.

Washed bridge at Rescue Creek in Yellowstone National Park.

“We’ve contacted or know where every backcountry user is currently in Yellowstone,” Scholey said, noting that one group remained in the northern range. He said it was not necessary to evacuate the helicopters.

Schole said there were no known injuries or deaths in the park from the flooding, and officials do not believe the animals in the park have been significantly affected.

The park’s southern ring “looks less affected than the northern road” and teams will try to determine when that ring can reopen. But officials expect that episode to remain closed at least through Sunday, the park’s statement said.

CNN’s Amanda Jackson, CNN’s Carol Alvarado, and Claudia Dominguez contributed to this report.

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