Front Page Talking Points


Yellowstone Park flooding is reminder of long-term climate change impacts, experts say


1.gifSummarize the latest developments and government responses.

2.gifHow do photos or videos of the damage make you feel? Have you seen Yellowstone or hope to visit?

3.gifShare two facts from any other environmental or weather coverage.

Swollen rivers raged through Yellowstone National Park last week, ripping out roads, bridges and buildings in the oldest national park (created in 1872). Thousands of visitors were evacuated, some via Montana National Guard helicopters, and the massive park in Wyoming and Montana is closed for now. More rain and flooding could be ahead, officials warn. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte declared a statewide disaster and requested federal help with recovery costs.

More broadly, climate scientists say, the Yellowstone River flooding and mudslides from record-high rain and rapidly melting snow are a reminder of long-term global warming. Though rivers have flooded for millions of years, scientists predict that destruction related to climate change will reach nearly all 423 national parks. "Virtually none of America's national parks are untouched by extreme weather and climate change," The New York Times said last week. Adding: "Rangers in Glacier National Park in Montana are counting down the years to when the park will have no glaciers left. . . . Cactuses in Saguaro National Park in Arizona . . . are dying from the heat."

In a 2021 report on Yellowstone’s future, federal and academic specialists said the climate crisis would lead to more rainfall and rapid snowmelt due to extreme spring and summer warmth. Average temperatures in the Greater Yellowstone Area rose by 2.3 degrees since 1950, the study says, and could climb five to 10 degrees more in decades ahead. It suggests the Yellowstone region will experience what the rest of the West is already sees: long periods of dry conditions punctuated by brief moments of torrential rain, which brings flash floods like those in Montana and Wyoming.

National Park Service says: "It is probable that road sections in northern Yellowstone will not reopen this season." – June 14 announcement

Resident says: "It was ripping and roaring. Mother Nature, she don’t mess around." – Bill Berg of Gardiner, Mont., a county commissioner

Scientist says: "Our landscape has been shaped by climate change. Relatively small changes in temperature can have a big impact. The ecosystem is very delicate." -- Cathy Whitlock, Montana State University ecology professor

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2023

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Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.