[Vision2020] 6-15-22 High Country News: Yellowstone area flooding upends lives and portends a new climate reality

Ted Moffett starbliss at gmail.com
Mon Jun 27 15:25:52 PDT 2022

Vision2020Post: Ted Moffett
Yellowstone area flooding upends lives and portends a new climate reality —
High Country News – Know the West (hcn.org)

by Nick Mott

Unprecedented flooding in the Yellowstone area on Monday, June 13,
inundated homes, devoured roads, swept away bridges, isolated entire towns,
and shut down one of America’s busiest and most famous national parks. It
was yet another indication of the impacts climate change is likely to have
on flood- and drought-ridden communities across the West.

In Livingston, Montana, a town of around 8,000 an hour north of Yellowstone
National Park, dozens of people stood along a levee Monday morning,
watching chocolate milk-colored water chug through. I was one of them. A
torrent of mud, foam and logs surged by us.

A cool, wet spring had left the area with a snow-water equivalent more than
200% of normal. Warming temperatures combined with 2 to 3 inches of rain
sent more than 5 inches of snowmelt in the mountains in and around
Yellowstone — especially the Beartooths and the Absarokas — sheeting into
the Yellowstone River and its tributaries. The Yellowstone runs from the
heart of the park through Livingston. I live less than a half mile from the

By around noon
the river was raging at nearly 50,000 cubic feet per second. Federal data
shows the volume of water rushing through the river had reached about
32,000 CFS just three times
the last 130 years. But the flow on Monday nearly doubled the previous
record. Soon, that same data
river levels were nearly 2 1/2 feet higher than ever recorded.

A climate assessment <https://www.gyclimate.org/exec_summary> for the
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, put together by Montana State University,
the University of Wyoming and the United States Geological Survey, among
others, showed that the Upper Yellowstone area warmed by about 2 degrees
Fahrenheit between 1950 and 2018. Over the same time period, peak river
flows began arriving about 12 days earlier, and late spring rain rose by
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