Park officials warn Yellowstone flooding could be a ‘millennial event’

(The hill) – Extreme flooding in Yellowstone National Park could be a “millennial event,” National Park Service officials said during a press call Tuesday night.

“Not my words, but I heard it was a millennial event,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said. “From what I understand, one of the highest cubic feet per second ratings for the Yellowstone River recorded in the 90s was 31,000 CFS and Sunday night we were at 51,000 CFS.”

Sholly noted that despite the historic nature of the floods, such events “seem to be happening more and more frequently.”

Road conditions are particularly treacherous, Sholly said, as the park nears its peak tourist season. Flooding on Highway 89 across the Montana border cut off access to the town of Gardner, he said, and while access has since been restored, several thousand park visitors turned up. found stranded in Gardner with residents at one point.

Sholly added that the road between Gardner and Cooke City, Mt., will likely remain closed for the remainder of the season.

Park County, Mont., Commissioner Bill Berg added that flooding has endangered some basic services on the county side as well as parts of the county accessible only through Yellowstone.

“We cannot provide law enforcement services there at this time. Public Health Services, we cannot go out to pick up trash. Some of these things are pretty basic,” he said. “We can’t go out to help clean the streets because they have their own flooding.”

A combination of heavy rain and mountain snow caused extreme flooding on Monday that forced the park to close first its northern entrances on Monday and then all remaining entrances a few hours later.

On Tuesday, park officials said entrances would not reopen until Wednesday at the earliest. Much of the road leading to the northern entrance appears to have been washed away by video taken by NPS helicopters.

Joseph K. Bennett