Major flooding swept away at least one bridge, washed away roads and set off mudslides in Yellowstone National Park on Monday, prompting officials to close the entrances to the popular tourist attraction and evacuate visitors.
The flooding hit after recent “unprecedented rains,” park officials said on Facebook.
“Our first priority has been to evacuate the northern section of the park where we have multiple road and bridge failures, mudslides and others issues,” Sholly said in a statement.
The community of Gardiner, Montana, just north of the park, was isolated because the roads going in and out of town are impassable, officials said. The power is out in some areas of the park.
“Due to predictions of higher flood levels in areas of the park’s southern loop, in addition to concerns with water and wastewater systems, we will begin to move visitors in the southern loop out of the park later today,” Sholly said.
Officials won’t be able to say when the park might reopen until the flood waters subside and they can assess the damage, he said.
“It is likely that the northern loop will be closed for a substantial amount of time,” he said.
The park was experiencing record flooding, officials said.
Scientists say without extensive study they cannot directly link a single weather event to climate change, but climate change is responsible for more intense and more frequent extreme events such as storms, droughts, floods and wildfires.
Recent heavy rains and spring runoff also led to flooding in southern Montana, with water running down streets in Red Lodge on Monday. Evacuation orders have been issued in Carbon County, the Office of Emergency Management said.
Montana has been dealing with flooding while elsewhere in the West wildfires burned in hot, dry and windy weather.
—The Associated Press