What caused the massive flooding and mudslides in Yellowstone?

·2-min read

Visitors were evacuated from parts of Yellowstone National Park on Monday after heavy rain brought flooding and mudslides to the country’s oldest national park.

Roads have been washed out and the park closed after the powerful floods swept through, upending operations in the busy park.

The Yellowstone River in Corwin Springs, Montana surpassed its previous record high water level by at least two feet, according to the US Geological Survey.

The flooding was due to a combination intense rainfall and heavy snowmelt, the Associated Press reports.

By Tuesday at 9am, some parts of the park had recorded more than 1.6 inches of rain, National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Straub told WyoFile, adding that daily rainfall more than one inch is very uncommon.

And Reuters reported that the area also saw warmer temperatures over the past few days, which accelerated snowmelt from the park’s high peaks. Per US government data, the area currently has a lot of water piled up in snowpack, Axios notes.

Images from the park this week showed road and building damage as water poured into valleys and pushed rivers far above normal levels.

Rain was forecast to continue through Tuesday.

“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,” said park superintendent Cam Sholley via a a statement. “It is likely that the northern loop will be closed for a substantial amount of time.”

The climate crisis is expected to increase the frequency and severity of events like rainstorms in many parts of the country. Over the past few decades, more and more precipitation across the US has come via extreme one-day events, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.

In Yellowstone, climate change could lead to things like more wildfires and reduced snowpack over the 3,400-square mile reserve, according to the National Park Service.

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