Landslides and Floods
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
May 26, 2011
Record snowpack in Wyoming combined with above average precipitation this spring is causing numerous landslides in the Jackson area as snow begins to melt and soils become saturated. The largest landslide is located in the Snake River Canyon, closing Highway 26/89. Multiple smaller landslides have occurred in the Granite Creek drainage and slide activity is also being observed in the Greys River, Gros Ventre, and Cliff Creek drainages. Snotel sites are recording snow water equivalents that mimic data from the 1997 flood year and in some cases are above 1997 levels. Flooding is likely to occur as the mountain snowpack melts. The landslides and lingering snowpack is making some Forest roads impassable and will delay the opening of some campgrounds and recreation facilities. The expected high water will also affect recreation activities that occur on or near water, notably boating, trail use that involves creek crossings, and camping near streams and rivers. Water levels are expected to peak in mid-to late June. The Forest Service is working with County emergency teams and WYDOT in a coordinated response to ensure public safety.
1. Public safety is our greatest concern. Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Some floods develop slowly but flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes. Search and rescue along with other emergency responders will be stretched thin so preventing the need for rescue is paramount.
2. Conditions are changing rapidly. Prior planning and preparation is critical to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip to the National Forest. Visitors are strongly advised to check current conditions before arriving for a visit.
3. Information is available and will be updated regularly. Check the websites listed below or contact the Forest Service at (307) 739-5500
4. Although somewhat limited, recreation opportunities are available on the National Forest. Information on some of these opportunities is listed below.
Closures: A portion of Highway 26/89 in the Snake River Canyon is closed due to the massive landslide near Taco Hole. WYDOT is working to re-open the road as quickly as possible. Forest visitors are advised to stay out of the landslide area so crews and equipment can efficiency move the debris.
Please visit http://www.wyoroad.info for road travel information.
A temporary closure remains in effect for many Forest roads in the Jackson area. Closed roads include Granite Creek, North Fork Fall Creek, Mosquito Creek, upper Curtis Canyon, Flat Creek, Crystal Creek, Ditch Road and the Shadow Mountain roads. The Gros Ventre road remains closed to motor vehicle travel at the Slate Creek gate.
Road Conditions: Most Forest roads in the Jackson, Buffalo and Greys River area remain closed due to lingering snow and/or landslides. Open roads include the lower portion of the Gros Ventre road, Fall Creek road, and lower Curtis Canyon. The Greys River road is open to the forks, but snow and landslides are present beyond the forks. Recent rain has made roads very wet and slick. Forest visitors are reminded to comply with closure signs to prevent damage to road surfaces and ensure safety. Donít risk getting stuck in a remote area. Closed roads are open to non-motorized uses.
River Conditions: The Snake River waterway is not closed. However, due to the landslide on the highway, shuttling vehicles between West Table and Sheep Gulch boat ramps is not possible. The Snake River gage at Alpine is recording 18,300 cfs as of Tuesday morning May 24th. Water levels are expected to rise during the next month. High water levels, fast currents and floating debris such as large trees, are safety concerns for those looking to recreate on or near the river. Rivers change their channels constantly in high flows and log jams, landslides, or other natural occurrences can take what once was a familiar rapid and surprise even the most experienced boaters. Boaters are strongly advised to thoroughly check conditions before getting on the river, build in an extra margin of safety, wear approved life jackets, be prepared for self-rescue, and go with BTNF permitted outfitters.
Campgrounds: Campgrounds open now include Altherton, Curtis, East Table, Station Creek, Little Cottonwood, Wolf Creek, Kozy, and Hatchet. A delayed opening is expected for Granite Creek campground and Hot Springs due to lingering snow and landslides on the road. Flooding potential may limit the opening of Red Hills and Crystal Creek campgrounds. Hoback campground is currently being evaluated for potential opening. Campers in the Snake River Canyon are advised that road crews will be working to move debris from the landslide 24 hours/day 7 days/week, so there will be noise. Near Palisades Reservoir, the Alpine campground is open. In Star Valley, the Tincup and Pine Bar campgrounds are expected to be available by Memorial Day. In Pinedale, Fremont Lake, New Fork Lake and the Narrows campgrounds are expected to open by Memorial Day. Other campgrounds on the Buffalo and Greys River districts are still under snow. Dispersed campers are advised to not camp immediately adjacent to rivers.
Trail Conditions: Most Forest trails remain under snow. A few trails in the Jackson area are open in the Greater Snow King area. However, with the recent rain, trails are extremely muddy and trail users are asked to not ride on the muddy trails to prevent damage. Winter-killed elk and deer carcasses are being reported, so trail users need to be alert for the possibility of predators in the vicinity of carcasses and ensure dogs are under control and well within sight.
More Information: Please visit www.inciweb.org for more information. Bridger-Teton National Forest Information: (307) 739-5428