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May 17, 2011 7:31 am

Snow in Sylvan halts park passage for now

Written by Gib Mathers

Sylvan Pass in Yellowstone National Park remains closed and will remain so at least for now as crews wrestle with tons of snow and avalanche conditions.

A 70-yard wide, 20 to 30-foot deep field of snow came down in an avalanche Wednesday, forcing closure of the East Entrance road until further notice.

“We still don’t have the thing stabilized to provide for visitor travel,” said Yellowstone Park Spokesman Al Nash.

Warm days and temperate nights do not allow snowpack conditions to solidify, so the avalanche hazard remains high, Nash said.

At this time, there is no travel across the pass whatsoever — not even employee travel. The only personnel allowed on the pass are those working to clear snow, Nash said.

“It is not safe for anybody to go through,” Nash said.

Nash said to call 307-344-2117 for travel information in the park.

On Monday morning, Nash checked the snotel site at Sylvan Lake, just below the pass. It said 69 inches or 5.75 feet, he said.

Sylvan Pass is a challenge. Crews are firing the howitzer to knock off snow in avalanche areas and dumping it over the side in the narrow canyon on top or hauling the stuff off, Nash said.

The Snake River Canyon (U.S. 26-89) between Jackson and Hoback Junction was closed due to a mudslide, which was caused by high levels of snow in the high country. According to the Associated Press Monday, it will remain closed for several days. 

Sylvan Pass and Snake River Canyon are two examples of heavy snowpack hampering travel.

“It’s indicative of what is happening around us,” Nash said.

As high country snow melts, the National Park Service may have low-level flooding issues too, Nash said.

On the east side of Sylvan, crews are working in a confined space in several avalanche-prone areas, Nash said.

“There isn’t any space to work with,” Nash said.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link May 17, 2011 7:44 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    Where are all the snowmobilers now? Why don't they help?

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