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Yellowstone flooding – live: Tourists warned National Park closed for months as video shows perilous escape

Flooding caused mudslides and widespread destruction

Montana declares flood disaster due to Yellowstone flooding

More than 10,000 people have been evacuated from Yellowstone National Park, as dangerous flood waters have knocked out bridges and roads, as well as causing mud slides.

Heavy rains and snow melt caused the Yellowstone River to jump its banks, prompting widespread destruction and toppling riverside properties.

All five entrances to the park, which gets hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, have been closed to visitors for the first time in 34 years. Officials say the landscape has ben changed “literally”.

All visitors aside from a single group of backpackers have left the park, according to officials. Emergency crews are prepared to potentially rescue the group.

The north entrance of the park is expected to be closed all summer as officials seek to repair damaged infrastructure.

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Higher temperatures could bring more rain

Higher temperatures are expected for the Yellowstone area later this week and into the weekend, according to meteorologists.

That could cause more snow-melt to runoff and add to existing floodwater, as well as the increased chance of rain by Sunday.

In the Montana town of Billings, temperatures are forecast to be in the upper 90s on Friday and Saturday, which CNN reports would be enough to melt the remaining snow on nearby peaks.

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Park could be closed for ‘months'

Yellowstone has said the northern entrances to the park could be closed for“a substantial length of time”, with some reports predicting ”months”.

A press release on Tuesday said “Many sections of road in (the park’s northern areas) are completely gone and will require substantial time and effort to reconstruct”.

“It is probable that road sections in northern Yellowstone will not reopen this season due to the time required for repairs.”

All five of the gates to the park are currently closed, with the southern section expected to reopen before the of the week, although that remains to be seen.

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One group remains in park, officials say

All visitors except a group of backpackers have now been evacuated after Yellowstone National Park was hit by a record deluge, according to officials.

Around 10,000 tourists to the world-famous park were asked to leave after roads and bridges were washed out as “unprecedented” flooding devastated areas of southern Montana.

Superintendent Cam Sholly told reporters that just one group of campers now remains in the park’s backcountry as officials take stock of the scope of damage that has been done. It remains unclear what their current location is.

Graeme Massie has more:

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What caused the massive flooding and mudslides in Yellowstone?

The Yellowstone River flooding was due to a combination of intense rainfall and heavy snowmelt, the National Weather Service has said.

The climate crisis is also expected to increase the frequency and severity of events like rainstorms in many parts of the country, as Ethan Freedman reports:

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Drinking water in Gardiner ‘biggest issue right now'

Gardiner, Montana, chamber of commerce president Mike Skelton also described the situation with drinking water in the town, which he said was “the biggest issue right now”.

“The biggest issue right now is the water, the city water supply has maybe been compromised,” he told KULR-8.

He said the local health department has ordered all restaurants and businesses to shut and that Montana state authorities are due to test the water quality for safety.

“The residents have been asked not to drink the city water, so there’s distribution points around the city of Gardiner that have bottled water”.

Other towns have reported similar measures as a result of the record breaking flooding.

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One road open in Gardiner

The president of the Gardiner, Montana, chamber of commerce has told a local news station that one road is open in the town effectively stranded by floodwater.

Mike Skelton told KULR-8 on Wednesday: “There was no damage to the road leading up to Yankee Jim canyon which was the biggest concern”, heading east.

That has allowed residents and Yellowstone visitors to leave Gardiner, albeit slowly, with conditions on the road being described as “passable:.

“As you know being down here, there were several thousand visitors that were stuck here in Gardiner and couldn’t get out through the park, couldn’t get out through Highway 89”.

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Video shows perilous escape from Yellowstone

A video shared to social media has given a glimpse of the conditions facing those escaping Yellowstone National Park amid record-breaking flooding and mudslides.

Drivers heading out of the northern entrance on Sunday amid heavy rainfall showed one car narrowly missing large chunks of rock falling from a cliff face.

Twitter user Anne Leopold said she caught the video below while exiting Yellowstone’s northern entrance near Gardiner – a town currently stranded by floodwater and home to many evacuees.

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Snowmelt also blamed for flooding

Snowmelt has also been cited by meteorologists as a reason for the devastating floods across Yellowstone and southern Montana.

Yellowstone got 2.5 inches (6 centimetres) of rain on Saturday, Sunday and into Monday, while the Beartooth Mountains northeast of Yellowstone got almost 4 inches (10 centimetres), the National Weather Service had said.

Meteorologist Cory Mottice told the Associated Press: “It’s a lot of rain, but the flooding wouldn’t have been anything like this if we didn’t have so much snow”

“This is flooding that we’ve just never seen in our lifetimes before,” he added of the floods, that have swamped towns, damaged roads, and taken out power.

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National Guard rescues 87 people in Montana

The Montana National Guard (MTNG) has now rescued 87 people since floods hit Yellowstone National Park on Monday, the agency said.

It means MTNG crews have flown 40 hours carrying out search and rescue missions across the central and southern Montana region. It remains unclear how many people still need rescuing however.

On Tuesday, the agency said two additional helicopters had joined in Billings to assist search and rescue attempts and that soldiers had been deployed to Red Lodge. The towns are among the worst affected.

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Hospital stranded by floods

A hospital in the Montana town of Livingston has reportedly closed to new patients because of flooding stretching as far as the driveway, accordiong to Montana Public Radio.

“The past 24 hours have been crazy to be honest,” a spokesperson for Livingston HealthCare, Lindsey Pennell, told the station on Tuesday.

The building is undamaged and health officials have chosen to stay inside the hospital because there is no safe entrance or exit. The remainder of Livingston has also seen extensive flooding.

Flooding in the town of Livingston, Montana

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