Communities in southern Montana were left isolated after flooding washed out roads and bridges. Yellowstone National Park officials closed all entrances to the park until further notice. Some areas have been evacuated and stranded campers rescued.
Record Flooding in Southern Montana
National Weather Service (NWS) in Billings, Montana, reported unprecedented flooding across parts southern parts of the state and borders of Wyoming after heavy rain fell over a significant late season snowpack in the mountains. “This led to flooding rarely or never seen before across many area rivers and streams,” NWS said.
As of 13 June 2022, rivers reached or were likely to reach record levels in at least 6 locations, according to NWS, including the Yellowstone River at Corwin Springs and Livingston; the Gardner River near Mammoth; the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone near Belfry and Edgar; and the Stillwater River near Absarokee.
Evacuations, Yellowstone National Park Closed
Flooding prompted some evacuations in Red Lodge and Roscoe in Carbon County. Park County officials reported evacuations in Livingston and Cooke City. NWS reported voluntary evacuations in Absarokee, Nye, and Fishtail in Stillwater County. Roads and bridges were washed out, leaving areas isolated including Cooke City and Gardiner in Park County. Montana National Guard provided two helicopters to assist in Search and Rescue efforts in Roscoe and Cooke City. Many of the affected areas were left without drinking water and power supply.
Park County said in a statement that “Travel is extremely limited and unsafe in many locations. Many bridges and roads are no longer operational. Many people are landlocked, including the communities of Gardiner, Cooke City, Silver Gate, the Cinnabar Basin, Tom Miner Basin, stretches of U.S. Highway 89 South, Mill Creek, and Old Yellowstone Trail.”
Numerous homes and other structures including bridges were damaged or destroyed in the region. A cabin along the Stillwater River was ripped from its foundations and dragged along the river near Nye, Stillwater County.
Yellowstone National Park officials closed all entrances to the park until further notice. “Due to record flooding events in the park and more precipitation in the forecast, we have made the decision to close Yellowstone to all inbound visitation,” said National Park superintendent Cam Sholly.
NWS Billings said low-lying areas of Sheridan County in Wyoming saw minor flooding.