Floods force rare closure at Yellowstone National Park

STORY: The entire park, spanning parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, will remain closed to visitors, including those with lodging and camping reservations, at least through Wednesday, as officials assess damage to roads, bridges and other facilities.

Aerial video released by the park showed numerous sections of roads either washed away or covered in rocks and mud. The park service said a number of bridges were also damaged, and that electricity was knocked out in multiple areas.

The National Park Service was working to reach visitors and staff remaining at various locations, especially in the hardest-hit northern flank of Yellowstone, officials said.

They added that the gateway community of Gardiner, Montana, just north of the park's northern boundary and home to many Yellowstone staff members, had been cut off due to a mudslide in the area.

A video shared on Twitter on Monday showed a deck falling off a riverside house in Gardiner, near the national park.

The flooding and slides were triggered by days of rains across much of the wider Intermountain West following one of the region's wettest springs in many years. The park service characterized the levels of rainfall and flooding sweeping the park as unprecedented.

A sudden spike in summer temperatures in the past three days also hastened melting and runoff of snow accumulated in the park's higher elevations from late-winter storms.

The heavy rains and rapid runoff of snow melt converged to create treacherous conditions in the park, just two weeks after the traditional Memorial Day holiday weekend kickoff of the U.S. summer tourist season, which accounts for the bulk of Yellowstone's annual four million visitors.

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