Floods leave Yellowstone’s landscape ‘radically changed’
“The landscape, literally and figuratively, has changed dramatically over the past 36 hours,” said Bill Berg, commissioner for neighboring Park County. “A bit ironic that this spectacular landscape was created by violent geological and hydrological events, and it’s just not very practical when that happens when we’re all settled on it.”
The unprecedented flooding has driven more than 10,000 visitors from the country’s oldest national park and damaged hundreds of homes in nearby communities. Remarkably, no one was injured or killed. The only visitors left in the huge, tri-state park were a dozen campers who kept coming out of the backcountry.
Yellowstone celebrates 150 years as a national park
The park could remain closed for up to a week and the north entrances may not reopen this summer, Superintendent Cam Sholly said.
“I’ve heard it’s a millennial event, whatever that means nowadays. They seem to be happening more and more frequently,” he said.
Sholly noted that some weather forecasts include the possibility of additional flooding this weekend.
Rainy days and rapid snowmelt damaged parts of southern Montana and northern Wyoming, where they washed out cabins, flooded small towns and knocked out power. It hit the park as a summer tourist season that attracts millions of visitors intensified during its 150th anniversary.
Some of the worst damage occurred in the northern part of the park and in the entrance communities of Yellowstone in southern Montana. National Park Service photos of northern Yellowstone showed a landslide, bridges and roads washed away by floodwaters from the Gardner and Lamar rivers.
National parks are full of the deepest, the highest and the largest
In Red Lodge, a town of 2,100 that is a popular starting point for a scenic drive through the Yellowstone High Country, a creek running through the town jumped from its banks and overwhelmed the main thoroughfare, leaving trout swimming down the street a day later under sunny skies.
At least 200 homes were flooded in Red Lodge and the town of Fromberg.
Although the flooding has not been directly attributed to climate change, Rick Thoman, a climate scientist at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said a warming environment makes extreme weather more likely than it is. would have been “without the warming that human activity has caused”. .”
“Will Yellowstone have a repeat of this in five or even 50 years? Maybe not, but somewhere there will be something equivalent or even more extreme,” he said.