Intense rain over Yellowstone National Park yesterday caused severe flooding that triggered massive mudslides, damaged roads, and even swept away a bridge.
Conditions are so dangerous that park officials had to evacuate visitors and shut down the park, NPR reports. Damage has been reported across the park in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Parts of Yellowstone are also experiencing power outages. This is the first time the park has been closed to visitors since 1988, according to the Guardian.
“Our first priority has been to evacuate the northern section of the park where we have multiple road and bridge failures, mudslides and other issues,” said Cam Sholly, the park’s superintendent, in an online statement. “We will not know [the] timing of the park’s reopening until flood waters subside and we’re able to assess the damage throughout the park. It is likely that the northern loop will be closed for a substantial amount of time.”
There are also concerns about wastewater management during the flooding. The community of Gardiner Montana, which is just north of the park and home to many staff members, has been cut off after roads were damaged, the Guardian reports.
A helicopter video of the park posted to Twitter shows the extent of the road damage:
According to a tweet late last night from the Yellowstone National Park Twitter account, the park isn’t expected to be open to visitors until at least this Wednesday, though that could be pushed back.
Though the current conditions at Yellowstone cannot be pegged to climate change directly, the heavy rains that trigger mudslides are becoming more likely. A study published in Science Advances earlier this year found that a combination of wildfires and heavy flooding will increase the likelihood of landslides out West. These dangerous events can take lives and destroy property, often with little warning that they are about to occur.