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Yellowstone National Park: Flooding Fears As River And Lake Rise


First Posted: 07/07/11 06:51 PM ET Updated: 09/06/11 06:12 AM ET

Yellowstone National Park is under close watch as the park's river and lake rise toward record-breaking levels. According to The Billings Gazette, the Yellowstone River may reach the highest flows ever measured at the Fishing Bridge gauging station. As Yellowstone Lake swells, river flows could reach nearly 10,000 cubic feet per second, according to the National Weather Service.

The last record was set in 1997 at a record crest of 8.9 feet, and park spokesman Al Nash tells the paper, "It looks like the forecast calls for the river to reach its previous record at least... People are going to see water in places they don't normally see water."

On Monday, the river was listed at 8.3 feet.

The Billings Gazette writes:

Visitors to the park over the Independence Day weekend witnessed an unusually wet landscape and a thundering Yellowstone Falls.

Meandering streams, such as Elk Antler Creek, had become lakes, while the Yellowstone River topped its banks in the Hayden Valley.

Walkways, the marina, and an old boathouse will all be affected if waters continue to rise. According to Yellowstone Insider though, most of the risk lies directly outside of the park, with no reports yet of flooding seriously impacting visitors within the park's boundaries.

Rising waters are not the only problem that Yellowstone National Park has had to deal with this week. On Wednesday, a grizzly bear killed a 57-year-old man hiking in the park with his wife. It was the first fatal bear mauling in the park since 1986.

The park has also been fielding questions about an ExxonMobil oil spill, which occurred along Yellowstone River, but not in the park itself. Nash tells The Billings Gazette that they have been fielding calls from people across the country: "They hear Yellowstone River, and they think there's been a spill in the park... This is the longest undammed river in the world, and it covers a lot of country. I understand why they think of the park when they hear about the river."

The swollen Yellowstone river has affected oil spill cleanup efforts. The Los Angeles Times reports that crews are struggling to clear the spill, given the difficult conditions and fears that currents may sweep crude into fishing areas.

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Filed by Joanna Zelman  |  Report Corrections