According to CNN, Yellowstone National Park will remain closed to visitors through at least Wednesday due to dangerous flooding conditions, which have prompted park evacuations and left some in surrounding communities trapped without safe drinking water, officials say.
The park announced Monday afternoon that all park entrances were closed to visitors, citing “record flooding events” and a forecast of more rain to come.
The Yellowstone River gauge at Corwin Springs, Montana, reached 13.88 feet Monday afternoon, surpassing the historical high crest of 11.5 feet from 1918, NOAA river gauge data shows. “The river is still rising near Livingston, and it is expected to crest between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Monday,” Park County officials said on Facebook.
Across the nation in recent days, extreme weather events have battered communities, including thunderstorms that left nearly 300,000 customers without power in the Midwest, a tornado threat in Chicago, and a severe heat dome which has left more than a third of the US population under heat alerts.
“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,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement Monday.
Immediately north of the Yellowstone, several cities in Montana’s Park County are also experiencing extensive flooding, which has washed out bridges and roads, making it unsafe to travel or impossible to evacuate, Park County officials said on Facebook Monday. Officials have also issued warnings in many areas for residents to avoid drinking local water due to a broken water main and submerged wells.
“The river has never been this high before by my house,” said Elizabeth Aluck, who lives in Gardiner in Park County. Aluck told CNN Monday afternoon that she cannot evacuate because the roads and bridges around her home are washed out.
An Indiana family staying at a short-term rental cabin in Gardiner told CNN they were supposed to leave Monday morning, but the flooding left them stranded.
“The water levels were high on Saturday but within the past 10-12 hours things have gotten rougher,” Parker Manning said. “Our way out of town would be north on 89, but those roads are currently all underwater.”
The Yellowstone River, which runs through the park and several Park County cities, swelled to a record high Monday due to recent heavy rainfall and significant runoff from melting snow in higher elevations, according to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.