Flooding in Montana closes Yellowstone National Park


Via Flickr

Grace Smith | June 15, 2022

Over 10,000 visitors evacuated Yellowstone National Park as floodwaters demolished houses, bridges, and roads at Yellowstone and in nearby communities. Over 3 inches of rain and 5.5 inches of melted snow from high temperatures caused mudslides, flooding, and the closure of the National Park for at least a week. The combination of rain and melted snow created a 14.5-foot rise in sections of the Yellowstone River. Superintendent of the park, Cam Sholly, said in a news conference on Tuesday the northern area of the park is likely to remain closed until October or November. 

Yellowstone and southern Montana are at a higher risk of flooding because of climate change. According to the Greater Yellowstone Climate Assessment, a scientific report on temperature and precipitation trends and projections, the Upper Yellowstone Watershed has increased in temperature by 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1950. In addition, since 1950, springtime rain has increased by 20 percent while streamflow from rivers has increased between 30-80 percent.

There is more risk for Yellowstone National Park with a 7 percent increase in annual precipitation by mid-century and mean annual temperatures are projected to increase 5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2061-2080, under RCP4.5, a system and idea put in place to inform research.