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Olympic Peninsula, Wa

Elwha Flooding Closes Access to Olympic National Park

A tree falling into the Elwha River. Image via John Gassman's Vimeo Video: http://vimeo.com/119029319

A tree falling into the Elwha River. Image via John Gassman’s Vimeo Video: http://vimeo.com/119029319

 Updated: February 13th, 2015

 

During the first week of February, a large storm worked its way through the Pacific Northwest, dumping feet of water on the rugged and remote Olympic Mountains. With snow levels hanging on near 7,000 feet, any precipitation that fell, ended up coming down as rain. As the inches began to increase, so did the waters of the rivers of the Olympic Peninsula.

 

With severe flooding along the Duckabush, reports of small slides on the Dosewallips and the always present flooding of the Skokomish River, the majority of the media of the region we trailed on rivers close to home. However, on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula John Gussman, was out documenting the mighty Elwha first winter, dam free.

 

John Gussman, of Return of the River fame, has dedicated the better part of his life to the Elwha River, documenting it beautifully in his aforementioned film. Documenting the ever changing river is something John has been masterful at, and on February 6th, 2015, he witnessed the flooding of the Elwha at levels unseen in recent memory.

 

Sweeping down the wide valley, the Elwha River carved large sections of land away, rerouting her banks in the timeless dance of wild rivers. The river, as John Gussman’s video documents, scaring into the road, possibly washing away the only route that many will see this natural wonderland. As we reported earlier, the closing of the Elwha Region would have a huge significance to the three million visitors who come to the region each year.

 

Park Officials issued a Press Release on February 13th, 2015 stating that,

The Olympic Hot Springs Road is closed at the park boundary and is expected to remain closed through the long weekend as construction equipment operates in and along the road.  The closure applies to vehicle, foot and bicycle access.

 

“We regret the inconvenience this may cause for would-be visitors to the Elwha Valley this weekend and encourage people to consider exploring other park destinations during this fee-free weekend,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.  “Our crews had hoped to have the road re-opened in time for the holiday weekend, but it is simply not safe to do so.”

 

The Press Release issued by Olympic National Park also read,

Olympic National Park joins other parks across the nation in celebrating the Presidents Day weekend with free park entry through Monday, February 16. For more information about visiting the forests, mountains and beaches of Olympic National Park, visitors should consult the park’s website at www.nps.gov/olym.

 

 

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

 

Flooding on the Elwha 2/6/15 from John Gussman on Vimeo.

 

 

The fluctuating levels of the Elwha River during a February Storm in 2015. Image from the site of the former Lake Aldwell

The fluctuating levels of the Elwha River during a February Storm in 2015. Image from the site of the former Lake Aldwell

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