Southwest Montana rivers at historic highs
Rain, runoff causes flooding, forces Yellowstone National Park closure
By Julia Barton DIGITAL PRODUCER
BIG SKY — Heavy rains and snow runoff have caused the Gallatin River to reach flood stage today with flow rates rising to 8,930 cubic feet per second. This is the highest the Gallatin has been since 1997 when it set a record at a peak of 9,160 cfs.
High water brings with it the risk of flooding and road erosion. The Montana Department of Transportation is working on emergency erosion mitigation efforts in the Gallatin Canyon to protect the roadway from water damages. These efforts are not expected to result in road closures, however they will cause traffic delays between Big Sky and Bozeman.
At 11:09 a.m. today, the National Park Service closed off all inbound traffic to Yellowstone National Park until at least Wednesday for flood danger. “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 superintendent Cam Sholly in a park press release.
Road closures in Yellowstone are likely to contribute to further delays on U.S. Highway 191, according to Gallatin County spokesperson Whitney Bermes.
Similar conditions are being seen across southwestern Montana, causing road closures on U.S. Highway 212 from Red Lodge to the Wyoming border; Secondary Highway 308 between Red Lodge and Belfry; Montana Highway 78 between Red Lodge and Interstate 90 junction at Columbus; and U.S. Highway 89 between the Wyoming border and I-90 junction at Livingston. Check current Montana road conditions and closures through MDT.
The town of Gardiner has been isolated due to road closures and NPS is working with the state to evacuate residents left without water or power. Flooding in Carbon County has prompted extensive evacuation orders in Red Lodge as water flows down streets, according to Red Lodge Fire and Rescue spokesperson Amy Hyfield. The National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for parts of southwest Montana through Wednesday, June 15.