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Unprecedented flooding hits Yellowstone National Park, U.S.

yellowstone flood june 2022 f

Destructive flooding and landslides hit Yellowstone National Park and nearby communities on June 13, 2022, washing out numerous roads and bridges in the area, cutting off electricity, and forcing people to evacuate. The floods hit during one of Yellowstone’s busiest months.

News of catastrophic flooding near one of the ‘gates to Yellowstone park,’ Red Lodge, Montana, broke this morning, with videos surfacing online showing flood waters flowing down Broadway Street in Red Lodge.1

More than 60 people were stranded in the area, including miners at the Stillwater Mine near Nye, after the flood waters washed away the road leading to the mine.

Preliminary assessments made by Yellowstone NP officials show multiple sections of roads throughout the park have been either washed out or covered in mud or rocks, and multiple bridges may be affected.2

“Due to record flooding events in the park and more precipitation in the forecast, we have made the decision to close Yellowstone to all inbound visitation,” said Yellowstone NP superintendent Cam Sholly.

yellowstone flood june 2022 a
Image credit: Yellowstone National Park
yellowstone flood june 2022 b
Image credit: Yellowstone National Park
yellowstone flood june 2022 c
Image credit: Yellowstone National Park

“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. The community of Gardiner is currently isolated, and we are working with the county and State of Montana to provide the necessary support to residents, who are currently without water and power in some areas,” Sholly said.

“Due to predictions of higher flood levels in areas of the park’s southern loop, in addition to concerns with water and wastewater systems, we will begin to move visitors in the southern loop out of the park later today in coordination with our in-park business partners.

“We will not know the timing of the park’s reopening until flood waters subside and we’re able to assess the damage throughout the park. It is likely that the northern loop will be closed for a substantial amount of time.”

The Yellowstone at Corwin Springs was at 402.9 cm (13.22 feet) at 15:00 UTC, breaking the record of 350.5 cm (11.5 feet).

At the same time, the Yellowstone River near Livingston was at 330.4 cm (10.84 feet), breaking the record of 326.1 cm (10.7 feet).

yellowstone river at corwin springs june 2022
Yellowstone River in Livingston june 2022

The floods were caused by heavy rainfall exacerbated by snow still melting off and rushing off the mountains.3

Yellowstone received 60 mm (2.5 inches) of rain from Saturday to Monday while the Beartooth Mountains northeast of Yellowstone received as much as 100 mm (4 inches), according to the National Weather Service.

“It’s a lot of rain, but the flooding wouldn’t have been anything like this if we didn’t have so much snow,” said Cory Mottice, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Billings, Montana.

“This is flooding that we’ve just never seen in our lifetimes before.”

References:

1 Destructive flooding forces all Yellowstone park entrances closed – KGVO – June 13, 2022

2 UPDATE: All entrances to Yellowstone National Park CLOSED temporarily due to heavy flooding, rockslides, extremely hazardous conditions – Yellowstone National Park – June 13, 2022

3 Yellowstone floods wipe out roads, bridges, strand visitors – The Seattle Times – June 13, 2022

Featured image credit: Yellowstone National Park

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