With the winter season officially set to open Wednesday, crews in Yellowstone are rushing to return power to all parts of the park in the wake of a wind storm that downed trees across the park.
While crews from Northwestern Energy are doing their best to restore power, road crews are actually plowing the thin snowpack on the road from West Yellowstone to Old Faithful and from Mammoth Hot Springs to Norris, Canyon and Lake so tanker trucks can bring in extra diesel for generators at those locations. Once the deliveries are made and the trucks leave, the snow will be packed back onto the roads.
"It's our one chance to top off the tanks just in case we need to run generators for an extended period later in the winter," Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash tells me.
While the wind storm that raked over the park Friday knocked out power in many areas of Yellowstone, by Sunday power was back on at Canyon. As of this morning, though, generators were still providing the juice at Old Faithful.
As for Wednesday's opening at Yellowstone, snow conditions for over-the-snow travel are kinda skimpy. While a storm dumped more than a foot of fluff on parts of Utah this past weekend, little fell on Yellowstone. As of this morning snow depths ranged from 17 inches at Canyon and 22 inches at Old Faithful to 31 inches at Grant Village and West Thumb.
While the park is planning to open on schedule Wednesday, conditions will not be optimal.
"Looks like traffic from the north will have to begin at Indian Creek Campground instead of Mammoth Hot Springs," says Nash. "Hayden Valley may be restricted to tracked snowcoaches only.... nothing with skis. And we probably won't know the status of travel through Sylvan Pass until late this afternoon."