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300 tourists stuck in Alaska’s Denali National Park after heavy rains and mudslides

About 300 tourists became stranded in Alaska’s Denali National Park and Preserve after mudslides closed the only road inside the park.

The tourists, who became stranded Friday, made it back to the park’s entrance about midnight.

Crews worked all day Saturday to get the road reopened by Sunday morning.

“Our team did an outstanding job responding to multiple debris slides along a pretty remote section of road,” Erika Jostad, Denali’s chief ranger, said in a news release. “The geohazard team monitored conditions while the road crew was clearing debris. It was a great example of teamwork.”

Heavy, steady rains have caused rock falls and debris slides on the Denali Park Road since Aug. 1. Swollen creeks and rivers have also caused culverts to overflow and wash out parts of the road. The road was closed all day on Aug. 8.

Weather stations in some parts of the park, which is about 130 miles north of Anchorage, measured rainfall totals as high as 18 inches since the first of the month, according to the park spokesman.

“Two weeks of persistent heavy rain just became too much for the landscape to contain,” said acting Public Information Officer Paul Ollig. “Some areas of the park received nearly 9 times the average rainfall totals for August in half that time. All that water had to go somewhere, and it ended up carrying a lot of mud, rocks, and road surface with it.”

The heavy rain also caused the Alaska Railroad to halt service north of the park after a retaining wall was eroded.

Passenger and freight service will be suspended through the area until late Monday at the earliest, the railroad said in a statement.

Editor’s Note: This story was written by The Weather Company.

Stephanie Weaver

Stephanie Weaver

Stephanie Weaver is a weather anchor and reporter at News 4 Tucson.
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