Access to all but the northeast corner of Mount Rainier National Park will be closed Thursday because flood waters have cut two primary access routes.
Park officials Wednesday afternoon announced the road from the Nisqually entrance to Longmire would remain closed because Kautz Creek continues to pour over the roadway. The road was closed Wednesday morning when at least six inches of water covered the most traveled road in the park.
Also Wednesday afternoon, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced that Highway 123 on the park’s east side will be closed for 24 hours. Several culverts along the road were overflowing.
Flooding on the road to Longmire was caused by another diversion in Kautz Creek. The creek has diverted down a rock channel and was running over the road more than a 1/4 mile east of the Kautz Creek bridge.
Staffers were on site Wednesday assessing the situation, said Donna Rahier, park spokeswoman. The road will remain closed today, even if it stops raining, so crews can check the roadway for damage.
During the historic November 2006 flood, the creek’s flow was diverted about 1 mile upstream from the bridge. As a result, the creek flooded the road about a 1/4 miles east of the bridge. Two sets of culverts were installed at the creek’s new intersection with the road.
Water from this storm was running through those culverts, but a stream blockage was sending the water over the road east of the culverts.
Only Highway 410 in the northeast corner of the park remains open. In the northwest corner, the Carbon River Road has been closed since the 2006 flood.
To check on park road conditions, call 360-569-2211.