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Heavy Rain Raises Flood Concerns In Yosemite

Jamie Richards / Yosemite Park Ranger

Jamie Richards / Yosemite Park Ranger

Heavy rain through this week is raising the possibility of flooding in Yosemite National Park causing the park to close.

Rain comes off the granite cliff along Yosemite’s Valley Floor and into the Merced River which can swell with the runoff.

There are no road closures in effect except for Highway 120 over the Tioga Pass which happens every winter due to the snow.

Park Ranger Jamie Richards says the park is seeing both snow and heavy rain.

“There is standing snow on the valley floor, only a couple of inches. But we also have a rain-sleet mix that’s coming down today," says Richards. "It’s a pretty wet day here in Yosemite National Park.”

Richards also says the park sees 200,000 visitors in January but people might have to change plans if the Merced River goes above the flood stage and the park closes.

“At this point in time, we want people to come up and enjoy Yosemite but also be cautious, pay attention to the weather forecast,” says Richards.

The last major flood in Yosemite was in January 1997 which closed the park until March of that year.

Courtesy of NPR Video: Floods in Yosemite Valley aren't uncommon during spring, when the Merced River swells with melted snow. The largest, least common floods occur during winter—most recently in January 1997. See what the Valley looked like during floods in May 1996 and January 1997.

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