Yosemite National Park to Temporarily Close Over Flooding Concerns From Melting Snow
Yosemite is expected to remain closed until at least May 3.
Large parts of Yosemite National Park will close this week, as melting snow is forecasted to cause flooding.
Most of Yosemite Valley is scheduled to close Friday at 10 p.m., according to the National Park Service (NPS). The closure is currently in place until May 3, but it could be extended.
“As announced yesterday, much of Yosemite Valley will close … due to a forecast of flooding. Western Yosemite Valley will remain open but could close if traffic congestion or parking issues become unmanageable,” the NPS tweeted.
Visitors were told to expect “heavy congestion, traffic delays, and extremely limited parking; strict enforcement of parking regulations; potential for additional road closures and detours based on water levels and traffic; [and] very limited opportunities for hiking and other recreation.”
Parkgoers who made reservations for lodging or campgrounds in eastern Yosemite Valley will automatically receive refunds.
The closure comes as the National Weather Service California Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC) noted “warmer above average temperatures” were forecast to peak this weekend. “Flows on the Merced River through the park will be increasing due to a higher rate of snow melt,” the CNRFC said.
In February, Yosemite was forced to close the park to visitors after it received up to 15 feet of snow in parts. The park partially reopened in March. (A snow survey from April revealed that Yosemite's snowpack is over 240% of its average. At above 8,000 feet, the snow is the deepest ever recorded, the park said.)
The park closes Yosemite Valley whenever the forecast predicts the waters of Merced River at Pohono Bridge will exceed 10 feet. At that level, the NPS said “roads and other critical infrastructure begin flooding.”
Park spokesperson Scott Gediman told USA Today that additional flooding-related closures were possible into June and even July. "I've been in Yosemite for 27 years and I've never seen this much snow," he said.
While parts of the park will close, others like Wawona, hiking access to the Mariposa Grove, the Crane Flat area, Hetch Hetchy, and the western Yosemite Valley will remain open.
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