Yosemite National Park will remain closed at least early next week — if not longer — as park officials continue to respond to historic snowfalls that buried cabins and blocked roads, according to to national park officials.
Officials said the park, which has been closed to the public since Feb. 25, could reopen as early as March 13, but called that a “best-case scenario” in a tweet, especially with another storm forecast to bring even more precipitation later this week.
The park saw record-breaking snowfall in the Yosemite Valley last week, with photos from around the park with cabins buried by snow and doorways almost completely blocked by snowdrifts.
But after the second of the back-to-back blizzards ended midweek last week, the park received even more snow in the following days — up to two feet in some areas, said Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite National Park.
“This is literally on top of the snowfall we’ve already had,” he said. “We’ve had some nice weather in the last few days, but we still have a lot of work to do to get the park ready for reopening.”
The park thankfully suffered no major damage or serious injuries from the weather, Gediman said, but some tent cabins have collapsed, roofs need repair and many roads have been blocked to allow only a few lanes. Of the park’s 55 parking spaces, only three had been cleared on Tuesday, he said, as crews continue to widen roads, dig hydrants and refill fuel.
“We want to be open and we love the visitors, but safety is the top priority,” said Gediman. “And with the current circumstances, exacerbated by the incoming system, we thought it prudent to announce that we would be closed for the entire weekend.”
Park teams have made significant progress, he said, but it’s hard to know exactly what this next wet storm could bring this week.
“It’s a warmer storm system, but there’s a potential of a lot of things,” Gediman said. Flooding, rock slides and avalanches could become problems for the park depending on how the forecast plays out, he said.
This next storm is expected to bring heavy rain and some snowfall in the Sierra Nevada and its foothills starting Thursday, raising concerns about severe flooding given the exceptionally deep snowpack.
There’s a good chance the Yosemite Valley could receive up to 3 inches of rain by Sunday, according to to the National Weather Service, and higher parts of the park and surrounding peaks could possibly see several feet of snow.