The Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park closes in light of a major storm, no projected reopening date
SEQUOIA AND KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS – As a major rainstorm bears down on mountain communities, the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are keeping community members safe through road closures.
Due to heavy rainfall at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the Ash Mountain entrance to Sequoia National Park closed on March 9 at 6 p.m. Public affairs officer Sintia Kawasaki-Yee said that there is no reopening date just yet, as they are not sure how severe the damage will be from rain and snowfall. Closures may occur throughout Kings Canyon National Park depending upon how the weather system unfolds as well.
The parks expect a forecasted atmospheric river, which is a narrow column of condensed water vapor that floats from the pacific ocean, then flows through the central valley and produces major rainfall. The atmospheric river then floats over the Sierra Nevadas and causes major snow melt. Previous storms that recently hit the parks had resulted in historically heavy snowpack, but the National Weather Service predicts that the upcoming storm caused by the atmospheric river will be warmer, with the snow line at approximately 9,000 feet. Coupled with the fact that many slopes throughout the parks are denuded of vegetation following the 2021 KNP Complex wildfire, there is major potential for flooding, landslides, serious road damage and other impacts, both in the parks and in surrounding communities.
“The predicted storm could have significant impacts, particularly on roadways damaged by previous storms,” Ned Kelleher, incident commander for the parks’ storm response team said. “While we appreciate the desire to get out into the parks, we urge you to prioritize your safety in the coming days. We will work diligently to restore access as soon as we can responsibly do so.”
Not too long ago, the Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park was closed off as well. At this time, they do not expect that it will be possible to restore access to the Giant Forest any sooner than March 17, and the actual date is likely to be later. While the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park remains open at this time, we strongly discourage the public from attempting to visit the parks during an active storm. If you must travel in the parks, remember to carry tire chains, food, water, warm clothing, and a flashlight in your vehicle.