Yosemite remains closed, Merced River to flood

A "closed" sign stands at the entrance of a normally busy ice rink at the Half Dome Village of Yosemite National Park, Calif., on Saturday, Jan 7, 2016. The area has been evacuated ahead of possible flooding of the Merced River from a storm system in Northern California. (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

(KRON) Yosemite National Park is closed as the Merced River is forecasted to go nearly 4 feed over its banks.

The Merced River which runs through Yosemite Valley is expected to crest at 12.1 feet

Forecasters warned of heavy rain that could down trees and trigger mudslides as the system gains strength throughout the day. Several feet of snow were predicted in the Sierra Nevada.

Rangers at Yosemite National Park closed all roads leading to the park’s valley floor, a major attraction for visitors from around the world eager to view gushing waterfalls and gaze up at towering granite rock formations such as El Capitan and Half Dome. Other parts of the park remain open, but rangers cautioned visitors to be aware of ice and falling debris on the roads.

Photographer and rock climber Josh Hilling, who lives in the foothills below the park, spent recent days chopping wood and stocking up on groceries.

“If you live long enough in this canyon, you experience lots of natural disasters — floods, fires, rock falls,” Hilling said Friday from his family’s home in El Portal.

Another storm is forecast for Tuesday and with the ground already saturated, rain won’t seep into the soil quickly enough and extra runoff could end up in already swollen rivers and creeks, officials said.

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