Update at 4:15 p.m.: Yosemite National Park official report they will close the entire Yosemite Valley at 5 p.m. due to possible flooding this weekend as projected by the National Weather Service. Park officials report the storm approaching the area early tomorrow morning could cause the Merced River to overflow its banks. It is anticipated to peak sometime late Sunday afternoon. Park spokesperson Scott Gediman says weekend reservations have been cancelled, stating, “The Yosemite Lodge and the Ahwahnee (Majestic) hotels are closing and we are emptying out our campgrounds. Basically, we are asking people to leave due to the high potential for flooding, water across roads, loss of electrical and water. We just don’t think it’s safe to continue to have visitors to the valley.”
Gediman says the Yosemite Valley will remain closed at least through Sunday, indicating, “We don’t have a specific opening time. We’ll just assess Monday morning, looking at any damage to the roads, power, and water, things like that. If things are safe to open, we’ll open them.”
Update at 1:40 p.m.: Yosemite National Park officials now report that all roads leading into Yosemite Valley will close today at 5 p.m. due to a significant winter storm moving into the region early tomorrow morning as projected by the National Weather Service. The National Park Service is concerned that the Merced River could flood. The river is expected to peak sometime late Sunday afternoon. Park officials say the roads leading into Yosemite Valley will remain closed at least through Sunday.
Visitors planning to head to the park are urged to monitor weather reports and check road conditions before leaving. Additionally, park services and facilities will be limited through the coming storm and assessment. The park provided this list of areas that will be open this weekend:
- Hetch Hetchy via Evergreen Road will remain open daily from 9am – 5 p.m.
- Along Big Oak Flat Road (Hwy 120 West): Hodgdon Meadow Campground will remain open on a first come, first served basis, Tuolumne Grove and Merced Grove will remain open, and Crane Flat Gas Station is open (credit cards only)
- The Big Oak Flat Road will be closed at the junction to Foresta.
Along the Wawona Road (Hwy 41): Wawona Campground will remain open on a first come, first served basis. Visitors will have access to the Redwoods Guest Cottages. There will be access to Yosemite West. The Wawona Road will be closed at Chinquapin (no access will be available to the Glacier Point Road)
- The El Portal Road (Hwy 140) will be closed at the park line in El Portal. Businesses along Hwy 140 outside of the park are anticipated to remain open
Below are details on areas were flooding is possible in the park and storm information. For locations offering sandbags in the Mother Lode, click here.
Original post at 6:44 a.m.: Yosemite, CA — The US National Weather Service is still forecasting a high possibility of flooding in Yosemite Valley this weekend.
The park currently remains open, but officials have stated that anyone planning to visit this weekend should rethink their plans as the park may be forced to potentially close. The National Park Service reports that a major factor in whether there will be notable flooding is the snow line, which is currently projected to be between 8,000-9,000 ft. during a bulk of the storm system. A small shift in the snow line could have a big effect on the Merced River because it means more or less rain is hitting the park (See image in upper left hand box)
Park officials will be keeping a close eye on the Merced River throughout the next several days and will put plans into place based on how high it rises. The river is anticipated to peak sometime late Sunday afternoon, with the potential to reach up to around 15 ft., based on current models. The information below was released by the National Weather Service in relation to the Merced River.
River is closed to rafters and floatation.
Chapel Meadow (south side of river) and Cooks Meadow (north side of river) begins to experience overflow.
Portion of Lower Pines Campground becomes flooded. Limited site-specific evacuations begin at Housekeeping Camp located along the south-facing bank of the Merced River. (Upstream from Sentinel Bridge and downstream from Stoneman Bridge)
Western portion of North Pines Campground, located at the east end of Yosemite Valley between the confluence of the Merced River and Tenaya Creek, begins to flood. Water rises to the base of the swinging bridge downstream from Chapel Meadow.
Water tops the swinging bridge downstream from Chapel Meadow. Overflow from Woski Pond floods access road (Northside Drive) leading out of the west entrance of the park.
Sewage pumping relay station at North Pines Campground becomes flooded.
Northside Drive and Southside Drive, which are the main roads in Yosemite Valley, become flooded and are closed to traffic.
Flood of record (01/02/1997). $178 Million damage to Yosemite Valley
Click here to read the latest storm information.