Weather Conditions Impact Glacier Park

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updated NPS information as of June 18:

Sperry Chalet - NPS photo

Sperry Chalet – NPS photo

  •  St. Mary Campground Closed due to standing and running water, and debris from Wild Creek and other run-off water. There were approximately 10 campers at the St. Mary Campground last night, and all left this morning on their own, prior to campground closure.
  • Access to the Kintla Lake area closed at the head of Big Prairie – 7 miles north of the Polebridge Entrance in the North Fork District of the park. Travel in the North Fork area of Glacier National Park is not advised at this time. There is standing water in several areas.
  • Red Eagle Lake Trailhead, near the 1913 Historic Ranger Station near St. Mary is closed.
  • Sand bags were deployed in the administrative area of St. Mary on the east side of Glacier National Park, responding to rising/flooding Divide Creek.
  • Pre-evacuation planning underway for the St. Mary area of National Park Service administrative and housing areas (approx. 30-40 people), and for the Many Glacier Hotel area. No evacuations have been initiated at this time!
  • No work is being conducted on plowing the Going-to-the-Sun Road at this time. Crews moved plowing equipment to lower locations yesterday as snow began to fall and more snow was predicted.
  • NPS employees are at Sperry Chalet conducting seasonal preparation activities and report 14-16 inches of snow since Tuesday morning. It was snowing again this morning at Sperry Chalet. Photos attached! Sperry Chalet is located on the west side of the park, near the Continental Divide.
  • Park personnel continue to monitor and access the situation across the park, making preparations in the event of any evacuations and staging equipment to respond as needed. Park personnel are in regular communication with the National Weather Service. All visitors are encouraged to use caution during this time of increased moisture.

from NPS Glacier National Park, as of June 16:

WEST GLACIER, MONT. – Snow conditions, cool weather, and debris from snow slides are challenging some spring opening operations for trails, facilities and roads in Glacier National Park. Snow accumulations in the park are above average this year and spring snowmelt has varied at different locations.

Numerous trails in Glacier National Park are still snow-covered. Park staff report damage to trails and backcountry campsites due to snow slides and large amounts of avalanche debris. The Ptarmigan Falls Bridge and Twin Falls Bridge have been removed due to winter damage and hazardous conditions. Temporary bridges are expected to be installed by early July. The Iceberg Lake Trail is closed to stock use until permanent repairs to the Ptarmigan Falls B ridge are complete. Permanent repair work on both bridges is anticipated to begin this fall.

Extensive avalanche debris has impacted the Trout Lake Trail. Hikers are not encouraged to use this trail, or it is recommended that hikers have route-finding skills to traverse the debris.

Trails may traverse steep and sometimes icy snowfields and hikers are strongly advised to have the appropriate equipment and skills to navigate such areas, or perhaps visit those areas once conditions improve. Please visit the park’s website for current trail status at http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/trailstatusreports.htm. Please report any hazardous or unusual trail or backcounty conditions by calling the park at 406-888-7800.

Frozen and damaged sewer and water lines caused some delays in seasonal opening activities for utilities park-wide. Rising Sun and the Swiftcurrent cabin areas experienced damaged water lines. The Apgar and Lake McDonald areas experienced issues with frozen sewer lines, and some broken water lines. The Cutbank, Many Glacier and Two Medicine Campgrounds experienced delayed openings due to abundant snow accumulation and slow snow melt.

A snow slide in the Alps area of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, about five miles west of Logan Pass, wiped out about 20-30 feet of rock wall along the road.  Several new slide paths across the road have been encountered this spring, including the need for extensive snow and debris cleanup.

Snow removal operations on the Going-to-the-Sun Road continue with road crews working near the Big Drift and Lunch Creek areas east of Logan Pass. Above average snow accumulation and cool June temperatures have provided challenges for snow removal operations. The snow depth at the Big Drift is estimated to be about 80 feet, larger than recent years. Once the snow is removed, a thick layer of ice on the road is anticipated.

In addition to snow removal, road crews are working to install over 400 removable guard rails, sweep the road of rock debris, and clear snow from Logan Pass Visitor Center facilities including sidewalks and trails. Park road crew employees have begun working overtime in an effort to accomplish snow removal goals in a safe and timely manner, as well as other park employees assisting in the hand work to remove snow around facilities.

Snow removal and plowing progress, including images, can be found at http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/gttsroadplow/gttsroadplowstatus.cfm.

Currently, visitors can drive about 16 miles from the West Entrance to Avalanche on the west side of the park, and one mile from the St. Mary Entrance to the foot of St. Mary Lake on the east side. It is anticipated that there will be vehicle access to the Jackson Glacier Overlook area on the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road by this weekend, but it is dependent on weather conditions. Vehicle access to Logan Pass, and beyond Avalanche on the west side of park, is unknown at this time.

Hiker-biker access is currently available from Avalanche to the Loop on the west side, and from St. Mary to Rising Sun on the east side. For current hiker-biker access and park road status, visit http://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/roadstatus/roadstatus.cfm. For additional questions about Glacier National Park, visit www.nps.gov/glac or call 406-888-7800.

See also the news story here.

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