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Yosemite National Park Visitors Told to Evacuate as Huge Snowstorm Looms


California’s Yosemite National Park has told visitors to evacuate as a huge snowstorm looms in the state.

Parts of the state have been under blizzard warnings and winter storm alerts as an atmospheric river begins to dump a huge amount of snow in elevated areas.

“Yosemite National Park will be closed starting tonight at midnight due to a major winter storm. The park will remain closed at least through Sunday at noon (possibly later),” a Thursday statement from Yosemite National Park read.

“Visitors currently in the park should leave as soon as possible, and no later than noon tomorrow, March 1. The National Weather Service is forecasting several feet of snow throughout the park (Badger Pass may receive over seven feet!) with very high winds.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued the rare blizzard warning in California earlier this week. Mountains regions through the Sierra Nevada and the Cascades will be the worst effected, with communities in Tahoe also braced to be dumped with snow.

Yosemite National Park snow
Yosemite National Park in a wintery landscape after snowfall. The park is urging visitors to evacuate following blizzard warnings in the area.

somchaij/Getty

Forecasters are predicting “very high probabilities” of snowfall exceeding 48 inches for certain portions of the Sierra Nevada. There is also a potential of it reaching above 80 inches.

Yosemite National Park lies within the Sierra Nevada mountains, meaning it will see some of the worst snowfall in the state.

Earlier this month, California saw heavy rainfall caused by another series of atmospheric rivers. However, the atmospheric rivers did not do much for the snow in the surrounding mountains, and some were relatively weak compared to others that the state saw recently.

Last year, the state was battered by intense winter storms and precipitation which brought a record amount of snowpack in the surrounding mountains. This was most welcome to the state’s reservoirs, which had previously been at record low levels due to prolonged drought conditions.

Yosemite also flooded last year due to the high levels of snowmelt coming down from the Sierra Nevada. The Merced River, which flows through the park, has the potential of flooding if there is too much snow.

It remains to be seen whether this incoming blizzard could raise snowpack to a similar level.

This year is in an El Nino weather pattern meaning wetter weather on the West Coast is expected. However, experts have also put these increased extreme weather events down to climate change, which seems to be intensifying weather conditions across the globe.

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