"There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle." Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Road Closures and No Power

I recall doing some whining this winter because of the Winter Storm Warnings that never really showed themselves in Mammoth. You know what they say about paybacks. We have been in a Winter Weather Advisory since last night at 9:00 and I really didn't expect the amount of snow forecast and what we got was a whopper of a storm. I had spent the morning calling the Road Conditions Hotline for Yellowstone and each call progressed into more road closings. At this moment all roads in Yellowstone (except from Mammoth to Cooke City) have been closed to guests due to snow and blowing snow.

The morning started off with about 3 inches on the ground and light flakes. Soon the electricity flashed off and on. Whew, made it through that one. Then it flashed off and on again. Whew, made it through another one. Then it went off.........and stayed off for over 5 hours. We spent much of the morning monitoring the cooler and freezer temps. and crating up packaged food from the cooler and hauling it to a location that was colder (a secure place outside). We watched the thermometer that reads outdoor and indoor temps. as they steadily fell. We started bundling up and watching the winds whip up the snow that was falling and already on the ground. With the roads closed we had exactly 3 customers, which were 1 LP gas delivery guy, 2 Xanterra employees and 1 park service employee. We can still sell merchandise without power but we have to hand write receipts and use 'kuncklebusters' for credit cards.

We were told by one customer about hearing over his radio about an accident just north of the Norris campground involving 3 cars and a snowplow. There is a curve on that narrow stretch of road and with whiteout conditions and snow covering the road I can imagine how it happened.

Power was out over much of the Park and even though power in Canyon came back on (thanks to an emergency generator that I hope holds up) Lake and Fishing Bridge are still without. YGS had some vendors and a set-up crew at Fishing Bridge and this afternoon a van pulled up with all the vendors in it from there. It took them an hour to travel from Fishing Bridge, across Hayden Valley and to Canyon after convincing a ranger that they were better off at Canyon than Fishing Bridge since we had food here. They came in and offered them donuts and coffee (from water heated on the gas stove) and we all expected that we would have numerous bodies laying under blankets on the floor overnight. 1/2 hour later the start-up crew made their trek across Hayden Valley and made it to Canyon. The vendors and start-up crew decided to caravan across to West Yellowstone. One of my employees decided to go to Lamar Valley today and he is now stuck for the night in Gardiner and one of the auditors is spending the night in Mammoth.

The winds now have died down and the snow has stopped but there is snow forecasted for the next week or so. It is a beautiful sight outside but this goes to show how conditions can deteriorate rapidly. As long as the generator keeps on generating I will be happily warm.