Mother Nature is cranky–first we get 6.5 inches of rain over Memorial Day weekend, then this Yellowstone flood which is being called a 500 year event, then we have a wind storm that would rival any windstorm in Montana. And we took a trip–lots to talk about!! And lots of photos. (You can click on any of the smaller photos to make them larger)
Let’s talk about this 500 year flood event–it’s horrific–there is no other word. Sunday night, June 12 into the early hours of June 13 Yellowstone Park and surrounding areas received 4-5 inches of rain. It was warm enough that rain fell on the mountain snowpack causing rapid melting. All that moisture swelled the Yellowstone River and its tributaries to epic levels never seen before. Another recorded flood happened in 1918 and the Yellowstone was flowing at 38,000 CFS. Monday the Yellowstone was flowing at 51,000 CFS! Our home sits about one half mile above a river and we have no flood issues–our neighbors and the neighboring communities were not so fortunate!
On Thursday June 9th we left home heading to the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area to camp with friends and ride ATVs up the mountains into the Pryor Mountain Wild Horse Range. Friends Geri and Larry came from Rapid City to join us and friends Ken and Leslie from our neck of the woods came along. On Saturday another gang from Big Timber joined us for a day ride.
The weather while we were camping was unsettled–rain/sun/high winds/downpours–but nothing that would indicate the extent of the flooding we would see on Monday.
The above photo is of our amazing Stafford Animal Shelter in Livingston, Montana. Staff and volunteers were in the process of calmly evacuating all the animals when the water suddenly rose to waist level and the power went out. Can you imagine???–and that water had to be so cold. All the animals were evacuated safely, all staff were OK but the shelter is a total loss.
The above three photos were taken inside Yellowstone Park which is devastated. The gateway communities of Gardiner and Cooke City were totally isolated for several days–no potable water, no way in or out. The lower loop of Yellowstone Park is re-opening June 22 but a system to limit the number of visitors is being put in place. License plates ending with odd numbers will be allowed into the Park on odd numbered days, etc. There is no way the lower loop could handle the number of visitors normally in the Park on a summer day–just sheer volume, or lodging or dining. The poor wildlife probably couldn’t handle the number of tourists!!
The north/upper entrance to Yellowstone is not expected to open this summer–the devastation is that great. Red Lodge Montana is located on Rock Creek and that normally shallow, rocky creek became a raging torrent leaving the street in Red Lodge covered in large rocks.
The Beartooth Pass, one of the most scenic drives in the US is closed for repairs. This flood will most likely significantly harm the tourist industry in Montana this summer and our hearts go out to all those business owners which rely on the tourist trade for much of their earnings for the year. Our hearts go out to the so many people who have lost their homes, land, outbuildings and perhaps their livelihood.
Our trip to the wild horse range was awesome as usual. Warm in the campground, very chilly on top of the mountains. On Friday we rode in an area we had not seen before, lead by Ken–beautiful country!
Saturday morning we met the gang coming from Big Timber at our usual meeting spot–the corrals and headed up the mountains with 11 rigs and I think 20 people. More snow than usual on this previous date–ice caves weren’t accessible due to snow, we saw fewer horses and no sheep. The weather was awful on top of the mountain, cold and dumping rain. We took shelter in Penn’s cabin originally built in 1911 as a shelter for men cutting railroad ties. In 1921 a man named Penn filed a homestead claim on the lands surrounding the cabin, thus the name Penn’s cabin. The cabin kept us all dry while we had lunch and waited out the rain.
Friday evening we took shelter in Larry and Geri’s motorhome to enjoy our dinner–the weather was cranky–high winds making the motorhome rock and sheets of rain. In the neighboring site young people had erected two tents and they were having one heck of a time keeping those tents anchored! Then when walking Emmi I find out one of the young people had tied his boat to the pier and came back 20 minutes later to find the waves caused by the extremely high winds had sunk his boat!!! I felt so sorry for those kids–they took down their tents, loaded everything into the ruined boat and left!
Ken and Leslie departed Sunday morning and the four of us took a tour of the Bighorn Canyon. It was a gray, rainy morning so photos do not do justice to the colors in the Canyon–but here are the ones I snapped.
We spent the rest of the rainy Sunday visiting, reading, napping, walking the dog and enjoying doing absolutely nothing with ice cream for supper–a very good day!
Monday we were loaded up and moving early! There was absolutely no cell service in the campground. As we traveled along and found cell service I began to see reports of the flooding on social media. We wondered in what condition we would find our home–as I said, no damage–our little creek is high due to that Memorial Day weekend rain but no higher than when we left on Thursday.
And then we had the wind storm–good grief Mother Nature!!! Saturday, I went to Livingston to have lunch with our friend Sarah–an outstanding lunch at Rice Fine Thai! Shortly after I left home the wind started to blow and it blew for an hour or more the Cowboy said–making a circle, coming from all directions. We lost multiple aspen trees in our little valley but no damage to house or outbuildings. Our neighbors up the road were not so lucky with damage to outbuildings, equipment, and vehicles. Power was out for about 10 hours.
So, that’s is what has been happening in the last week and a half–let’s hope the next week is a little more dull!!