Updated Jun 13, 2022 - Energy & Environment

"Unprecedented" rainfall forces Yellowstone to close all entrances

High water levels in the Gardner River alongside the North Entrance Road.

High water levels in the Gardner River alongside the North Entrance Road. Photo: NPS photo

Yellowstone National Park is seeking to help residents in the area after the park's entrances were closed Monday due to flooding, rockslides and hazardous conditions, the National Park Service said.

The latest: Officials issued evacuation orders for everywhere upriver of Livingston in the northern part of the park, including Paradise Valley as some visitors remained stranded.

What they're saying The priority was to evacuate the northern part of the park where there are mudslides and bridge failures, Yellowstone superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. Officials said

  • Sholly said Gardiner, Montana, the gateway community just north of Mammoth Hot Springs, was "isolated."
  • Gardiner residents earlier told the News&Guide that Highway 89, the main artery connecting Gardiner to towns like Carbella to the north, was flooded and closed. 89 runs south into Yellowstone, where river flows have damaged and closed the highway.
  • Sholly said parts of Gardiner were without water and power.
  • "We will not know timing of the park’s reopening until flood waters subside and we're able to assess the damage throughout the park," Sholly said.

Zoom in: Early assessments from NPS suggested multiple sections of roads throughout the park were washed out or covered in mud or rocks.

  • Yellowstone said it would not allow inbound visitor traffic to any entrance on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
  • U.S. Geological Survey in Montana said the streamflow had reached record levels.

Context: Several locations in and around the expansive park recorded more than two inches of rain in 24 hours ending Monday, which was partly associated with an atmospheric river event that has hit the Pacific Northwest and moved eastward.

  • The USGS said the Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs stage increased by about 6 feet in the past 24 hours, which is above the National Weather Service's flood stage. In fact, it rose to an unprecedented level, over 2 feet higher than its previous all-time record flood in 1918, according to the NWS gauge.
  • Maps from the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service in Montana show a heavy amount of “snow water equivalent” in the Yellowstone area, meaning there’s a high amount of water built up within the area’s snowpack.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Andrew Freedman: This is part of the atmospheric river that made landfall in the Pacific NW this weekend and brought heavy rain to Seattle.

  • Extreme precipitation events such as this one, which can cause flash flooding, are becoming more common and severe due to human-caused climate change.

What we're watching: More rain is expected over the next several days, NPS said.

  • The park does not want large numbers of visitors stranded in the park because of the forecasted rainfall.
  • The park said the flooding could strain wastewater and water treatment facilities.
  • The Yellowstone National Park and the NPS did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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