Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Heavy snow breaking plows in Yellowstone

Heavy snow breaking plows in Yellowstone

By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: April 12, 2008

Yellowstone officials say heavy snow has resulted in the breakdown of two bulldozers as road crews attempt to remove snow from park roads before they open for spring.

The park has since rented two machines in an attempt to clear roads from Mammoth to the West Entrance and south to Old Faithful by opening day March 2.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said this winter stands out as the snowiest in recent memory. “This is the most significant winter in terms of snowfall in years,” he said. “It could be the most snowfall we’ve seen in seven to ten years. For a change we’ve had a normal winter.”

Though cumulative snowfall amounts park-wide weren’t available, Nash said that, during the month of March alone, the park’s South Entrance received 101 inches.

According to Nash, the snow is so deep in some places that the bulldozer operators have to push the snow off the roadway in layers to feed it to rotary plows that then blow it off the road surface.

The south and east areas of the park typically see the most snow, especially the road between the South Entrance and West Thumb, Dunraven Pass, the Beartooth Highway and Sylvan Pass. Even during poor snow years, snowbanks along Sylvan Pass can reach 30 feet high, Nash said.

Nash said he expects that the park’s East Entrance will open May 2 and the South Entrance on May 9. Dunraven Pass and the Beartooth Highway aren’t scheduled to open until Memorial Day.

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