Floods hit Yellowstone National Park this week, forcing the evacuation of 10,000 visitors.
Photos and satellite images show destroyed houses, pulverized roads and destroyed bridges.
The park is closed and damaged roads may need to be rerouted.
Yellowstone National Park, famous for its geysers and wide open spaces, was closed for the first time in 34 years this week as floods inundated its roads.
The first US national park, located in Montana and Wyoming, is facing severe infrastructure damage after heavy rains and melting snow caused the Yellowstone River and its tributaries to swell.
Flooding forced the National Park Service to completely evacuate Yellowstone, pushing 10,000 people out of desert, campgrounds and settlements across the park, which is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
“It’s just the scariest river ever,” Kate Gomez, a tourist who was visiting from Santa Fe, New Mexico, told The Associated Press, adding, “Anything that falls into that river is gone.”
There were no known injuries or deaths as of Tuesday, according to a park release. The entire park is temporarily closed.
“Rain rates have never been higher,” Marc Chenard, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, told Insider. “It was more of an extended period of constant rain, and then you combine that with the snow melt, and you have these pretty significant elevations in the river.”
Satellite images give a bird’s eye view of the damage. The image below shows a road along the Gardiner River just south of the park’s north entrance just a few weeks ago.
Another image, captured on Wednesday, shows stretches of this road completely washed away.
The National Park Service shared the below helicopter video of the river flooding on Monday.
Yellowstone’s northern regions will likely remain closed for the rest of the season, according to the park’s statement.
Southern regions may reopen as early as Monday as they have not been as impacted by the floods, according to local newspaper The Casper Star-Tribune.
“Many road sections in these areas have completely disappeared,” the statement said. “It is likely that sections of the road north of Yellowstone will not reopen this season due to the time needed for repairs.”
More satellite images reveal a washed-out bridge over the Yellowstone River, swollen and churning. Here’s that bridge before the flood.
And here’s what it looked like on Wednesday.
Some nearby towns were without power on Tuesday, the park’s statement said.
Several houses were washed away by the rivers.
“Yesterday I was in shock. Today I’m just intensely sad,” Shelley Blazina, owner of a cabin that was swept away by floodwaters, told the AP.
By Thursday, floodwaters had moved downriver to Billings, Montana, and forced the city to close its water treatment plant.
“None of us planned for a 500-year-old flood event at Yellowstone when we designed these facilities,” Debi Meling, the city’s director of public works, told the AP.
Meteorologists expect more rain in Yellowstone on Saturday or Sunday, and the National Park Service said there could be even more flooding.
Connecting any single weather event to climate change requires additional research. Globally, though, experts expect flooding to become more frequent and severe as the planet’s average temperatures rise.
Flooding may have permanently changed Yellowstone’s landscape, rerouting a river and forcing park administrators to rebuild roads farther from the water, the AP reported.
“It’s certainly an impressive event there, not one you’ll see very often,” said Chenard.
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