December 8, 2022

The Yellowstone flood is a sign of what is coming to national parks

Livingston, Mont. – Disastrous rains and landslides have torn down bridges, flooded homes and forced the evacuation of 10,000 people, leaving the northern parts of Yellowstone National Park one of the most visited natural wonders of the country, cut off from tourists throughout the busy summer. Travel season. Authorities have warned of more rain and flooding.

The city of Livingston, Mont. Although the chocolate milky water from homes was low, the Yellowstone River was high, with more rain expected this weekend, and residents faced a long summer without a major driver of the local economy.

The park will be closed for a week or more when authorities deal with damaged roads and dilapidated bridges, park supervisor Cam Sholey told a news conference late Tuesday. But the northern entrances to the park, near Livingston and the small tourist town, will be inaccessible until Halloween.

Point of Rocks Bridge over the Yellowstone River in Paradise Valley, halfway between Livingston and Gardiner, is one of those important northern access points. Roads at both ends of the bridge were flooded, and crews worked Wednesday to rebuild access for them to inspect the bridge.

“The water is still there, a treasury situation is happening in three counties, but this bridge is a priority,” said David Crumley, bridge maintenance engineer for the Montana Department of Transportation. He said the bridge could take several days to come back into use or it could take more days if significant damage occurs.

Visitors to the park described the amazing experience of seeing the prairie riverbanks they had walked on just hours before the lakes and rivers overflowed. “My heart breaks for those who have lost their homes or are unable to come home,” said Donna Frisch, 52, a tourist from Georgia.

Mr. Sholi, the park ranger, described floods and landslides caused by four days of unprecedented rain and melting snow, “a millennial event, whatever these days. They seem to happen more and more often.” He estimated that at least 10,000 people had attended when the evacuation began.

On Tuesday, Montana Governor Greg Gianford declared a statewide disaster as the floodwaters continued to recede. But despite some tragic moments, when one person died of a heart attack at a campground, only one death was reported, officials said.

The jungle and active geysers in Yellowstone, America’s oldest national park, attract millions of tourists each year. Spreads throughout More than two million acres in the northwest corner of Wyoming and in Montana and Idaho. In 2021, More than 4.8 million people Visited.

National parks in the United States saw an increase in visitors during corona virus outbreaks, but they were not Facial enhancement strain Climate change and other factors create extreme weather, including droughts, wildfires and floods. Over the next few decades, Yellowstone is expected to see Increased fires, dying forests, expanding meadows, more invasive vegetation and shallower, warmer waterways.

The storm, which caused flooding and landslides this week, began with two to three inches of rain over the weekend. Along with the warming temperature of 5.5 inches of snow melting, the rain created a huge flood, Mr. Said Sholi. Authorities evacuated affected visitors north of the park on Monday, and flooding was still raging late Tuesday.

Hundreds of homes have been flooded in communities north of the park in Montana, including Gardiner and Cook City, which have been cut off from the supply of food and clean water, officials said.

Threateningly, some forecasts suggest that with one more foot of snow remaining in the Yellowstone Mountains, more heat and rain are expected in four to five days, raising the possibility of another series of floods, Mr. Said Sholi.

Livia Albeck-Ripka And Christine Hauser Contributed report. Alain Delaquier Research contributed.