All nonessential personnel were evacuated from Yosemite Valley Saturday afternoon due to expected floods from one of the most significant storms in years, National Park Service officials said.
On Friday, all roads to the valley were closed. Hotel guests and visitors were moved from the area to get ready for the “atmospheric river,” a tempest that some meteorologists said could be the strongest in 10 years.
Nonessential personnel were evacuated by 4 p.m.. The storm is expected to intensify Sunday morning.
Some areas of Yosemite National Park remain open. For updated road conditions, dial (209) 372-0200 and press the number 1, or visit www.nps.gov/yose.
To accommodate evacuated residents and park workers, an American Red Cross shelter was set up at Tenaya Lodge. Around a dozen people had arrived Saturday afternoon.
Jessica Piffero, public information officer for the Red Cross, said the shelter can hold up to 100 people and 42 were expected to be housed there Saturday night.
“This is obviously a very big storm, and a historic one,” Piffero said. “We haven’t seen rainfall like this for 20 years, and so our Red Cross team has been preparing for weeks and months for winter weather.”
Staff trained extensively in preparation for last year’s “El Niño” weather patterns, Piffero added, which has them even more ready for the deluge in Yosemite.
“Obviously last year we were expecting a worst case scenario and it didn’t happen,” Piffero said. “The silver lining to that is that we have all the resources in place now. We have volunteers, training done, and shelter sites identified. Our team of incredible volunteers is ready to respond to those worst case scenarios.”
Domestic pets such as cats, dogs, and birds are being accepted at the Tenaya shelter through a partnership with the Central California Animal Disaster Team, Piffero said. In case more evacuations are ordered, she said backup shelter locations are available.
In Madera County, the MCAlert emergency notification system can alert residents on severe weather, fires, and other events by phone, email, or text message. To register, click here or text “MaderaSO” to 888777.
Mariposa residents can sign up for a similar system, called Nixle, by clicking here.