NewsLocal News


Intense, brief storm at Yellowstone Lake topples trees, rattles hotel employees

ynp lake storm1.jpg
ynp lake storm2.jpg
ynp lake storm4.jpg
ynp lake storm7.jpg
ynp lake storm8.jpg
Posted at 11:40 AM, Jul 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-07 15:06:12-04

BOZEMAN — It took three days of steady work, but most of the damage from a major wind and rain storm that hit the Lake area of Yellowstone National Park Monday evening is now cleaned up.

Cell phone video taken by Bozeman painter Dan Ridley, just minutes after the storm started, shows trees toppled onto the Sandpiper Inn right next to the Lake Hotel. Wind-whipped dust and rain can be seen pelting vehicles and nearby buildings.

Lake Hotel Regional Ops Manager, Ray Foote, had just returned home when the storm hit. He told MTN News on Thursday afternoon, “I looked out my window. The trees were swaying back and forth dramatically and then I started hearing them crack and pop and things dropping.”

ynp lake storm7.jpg

Zoe Nissen, a Lake Hotel Employee had also just returned home to the bus camper she’s living in for the summer. She said, “We were on the bus. It was shaking around. We were like wooo, we’re kind of surfing and it was a good time honestly until we heard the trees cracking. I said well, maybe this is a little more serious.”

Nearby cabins had roof shingles blown off and trees littered the grounds around the area.

Carol Quinn, the Fishing Bridge Supervisory Park Ranger said on Thursday, “It really kind of caught my eye when the waves on the lake really started to get violent.”

ynp shingles ripped.jpg

Video taken by professional photographer Pamela Talasco of Silver Cloud Photography and posted on social media shows trees being knocked over by the wind alongside a park road just south of the Mud Volcano area. But the storm was brief. Everyone we spoke with agrees, the storm lasted only about five minutes, but what a five minutes it was.

Quinn is thankful it was over quickly. She said, “And thank goodness for that, that there were no—we had no fatalities, we had no major injuries.”

Foote noted the damage to the Sandpiper: “The entire front was covered with trees leaning onto it. We had a couple of our cabins with trees on them and just the wooded areas behind it, tons of trees down.”

ynp lake storm8.jpg

Thursday afternoon crews were just finishing cleaning up from Monday’s big storm. By then the Sandpiper was mostly cleared of the trees that were laying across it, but it still suffers some damage.

Foote noted, “It definitely cracked the soffit, and then just behind us you’ll see the little entryway to it. It’s got a big crack on the top of it. Luckily none of that is structural so the building is safe and sound for our guests again, but, it doesn’t look too great from here.”

The Sandpiper and several cabins were evacuated and guests were put up in other rooms, though a few did decide to leave the park.

“They were saying, we don’t have hot water, we don’t have power. I said, we know and we’re working just as fast as we can to restore it,” said Nissen.

ynp lake storm1.jpg

Next to the hotel, the medical clinic could hardly be seen after the storm passed. That’s being cleaned up and it’s up and running again, but there’s still work to do.

“So that first hour after it happened, the National Park Service was right on it. So by 5 o’clock they had cleaned up all the trees heading down to where the marina’s at, heading north Mud Volcano. People were cleared and able to get out again from the area,” said Foote.

The Park Service says all park roads are now open and all services are operating though some cleanup continues.