Yellowstone River flooding is a 1 in 500-year event, US Geological Survey says
By Claire Colbert and Raja Razek, CNN
Updated 7:00 PM ET, Sat June 18, 2022
A June 13, 2022, aerial photo provided by the National Park Service shows a washed-out road at Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana.
(CNN)The devastating flooding that occurred along the Yellowstone River this week constitutes a 1 in 500-year event, according to a US Geological Survey (USGS) news release.
Unprecedented rain and rapid snowmelt in recent days have caused rivers in parts of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho to burst their banks, swallowing bridges and sweeping away entire sections of roadway.
More than 10,000 visitors to Yellowstone National Park have been forced to evacuate. All entrances to the park are expected to remain closed until at least Monday.
“At two streamgages, Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs and Yellowstone River at Livingston, the peak streamflow was higher than the 0.2% (or 1 in 500-years) flood (level),” said USGS hydrologist Katherine Chase in the release.
Farther downstream, “the Yellowstone River at Billings was between the 1% (or 1 in 100-years) and 0.2% (1 in 500-years) flood,” according to the release, which pointed out streamflow data is “currently being reported as ‘provisional’ until followup analyses of the stream channel and data are completed.”
However, Chase noted in the release, “while these floods are often referred to as greater than (or rarer than) a 1 in 500-year event, there is the same probability that they could occur in any given year.”
Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “Meanwhile in China” Newsletter.
Stay updated on extreme weather
Sign up for email alerts from CNN meteorologists and reporters in the field.Sign Me Up
By subscribing you agree to our
The USGS frequencies are calculated from historical data for the Yellowstone River’s locations. As CNN has reported this week, scientists have shown climate change is impacting the frequency at which extreme weather events occur, and the trend is expected to continue as the planet continues to warm.
In a three-day period last week, Yellowstone National Park received about two to three times the typical rainfall for the whole month of June, and precipitation this month has already been more than 400% of the average across northwestern Wyoming and southern Montana, according to the National Weather Service.
Yellowstone south loop to reopen
All five of Yellowstone’s park entrances remained closed Friday as flood recovery and repair efforts are underway in preparation for the park’s reopening, according to a release from the park’s superintendent’s office.
According to the release, the National Park Service does not yet have an estimated reopening date for the entire park — nor an idea of total repair costs. The release outlines an extensive list of needed repairs to roads and infrastructure in each section of the park in order for it to reopen.
“We have made tremendous progress in a very short amount of time but have a long way to go,” Superintendent Cam Sholly said in the release. “All emergency and life safety objectives within the park have been accomplished or stabilized within the first 96 hours of the flood event, without major injury or death.”
Photos: Historic flooding in Montana
The park service announced on Saturday the south loop of the park will reopen to the public on Wednesday.
“At 8 a.m. Wednesday, June 22, Yellowstone National Park will begin allowing visitors to access the south loop of the park,” according to a news release from Yellowstone National Park. “The south loop is accessed from the East (Cody), West (West Yellowstone), and South (Grand Teton/Jackson). Areas accessible include Madison, Old Faithful, Grant Village, Lake Village, Canyon Village and Norris.”
Backcountry areas accessible from roads open to the public will be available for day use only, according to the release. Overnight use from trailheads in the south will open on July 1.
While the north loop is closed, “park staff have engaged over 1,000 business owners, park partners, commercial operators and residents in surrounding gateway communities to determine how to manage summer visitation,” the park service said.
To ensure the south loop does not become overwhelmed by visitors and to balance the demand for visitor access, the park will institute an interim visitor access plan,” according to the release.
“The interim plan, referred to as the Alternating License Plate System (ALPS), was suggested as a solution by gateway communities during major public engagement with the park this past week,” the release read.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte struck an optimistic tone about flood recovery and rebuilding as he encouraged continued tourism to the Big Sky State. The “best days are ahead of us,” he told reporters Friday.
“We’re open. You’ve got to come,” Gianforte said of Yellowstone Park. “The vitality of our communities depends on it. We’re open for business, and we want you to come.”
Officials have previously said the northern section of the park will likely remain closed through the remainder of the season.
CNN’s Judson Jones, Haley Brink, and Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.
- PAID CONTENTThis Game is So Beautiful. If You Have a Computer it’s a Must-Have.Raid: Shadow LegendsRefrigerate Any Room In 2 MinutesLearn MoreBest Tech TrendRECOMMENDED1/5infoReport video4Skip Adskip_nextRead More
- Recommended for youRecommended byRecommended1/57 Ways to Retire Comfortably With $500kFisher InvestmentsSponsoredWhen You Eat Oatmeal Every Morning, This is What HappensTop Doctor explains what eating certain fruits, veggies, and whole grains may cause to your body. You might be surprised at the effects!TheGutPatch.comSponsoredBlunder #10: Mismanaging Retirement WithdrawalsFisher InvestmentsSponsored[Pics] Neighbor laughs when man fills yard with tires, 2 years later begs him for a jobTop5These children lost young parents to Covid-19. Here’s what they want other kids — and adults — to knowCNN asks die-hard Trump supporter if Jan. 6 hearings are changing his mindHundreds are urged to evacuate due to wildfire near Flagstaff, Arizona, as thousands more are told to prepare to leaveElon Musk shares who he would like to be the next president in 2024MSNBC’s Katy Tur says she was ‘puzzled’ when her father came out to her as transgenderOpinion: Americans are facing a Rainbow Scare — and it may get worse before it gets better
- MORE FROM CNNVideo: ‘A big victory’: Military analyst on Russian tugboat destroyed in Black SeaGOP congressional candidate Carl Paladino said Black Americans are ‘held hungry and dumb’ and ‘conditioned’ to vote for Democrats
- News & BuzzTrump’s sister delivers a staggering verdict on her brotherMarjorie Taylor Greene’s blunder sums it up
- Paid Content
- [Pics] Life After The Big Bang Theory For The CastHistory10
- [Gallery] 29 T-Shirt Mistakes That Went Too ViralDailyChoices
- 7 Ways to Retire Comfortably With $500kFisher Investments
- PAID CONTENT
- [Pics] At 40, This Is Why Anna Kournikova Isn’t…Opulent Express
- When You Eat Oatmeal Every Morning, This is…TheGutPatch.com
- 3 Ways Your Dog Asks For Help
- Celebrity Veterinarian Reveals Silent Clues That Your Dog is in Distress
- A Discovery In Animal Science Is Causing Quite A Stir Among Dog Owners
- US Vet: “This Dog Behavior Isn’t Normal”
- Top Veterinarian Shares 3 Warning Signs Every Dog Owner Should Know
- 0% intro APR until nearly 2024 is 100% insane
- It’s official: now avoid credit card interest into 2024
- Hands down one of the best cards for good credit
- Experts: this is the best cash back card of 2022
- A slam dunk if you need a balance transfer (21 months)
- CNN Underscored
- Do Not Sell My Personal Information
- Ad Choices
- About Us
- CNN Store
- License Footage
- CNN Newsource
© 2022 Cable News Network.A Warner Bros. Discovery Company.All Rights Reserved.CNN Sans ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network.HR rep borrowed $80,000 in student loans for ‘a better future that never happened’