A flood watch for the Merced River in Yosemite National Park continues this week, with water levels expected to peak Wednesday at midnight, according to park spokeswoman Kari Cobb.
The river will rise to about 11 feet, inundating the lowest points and flooding sidewalks, boardwalks and meadows. No structures, roads or other visitor services should be affected by the rising water, she said.
The same heat wave blasting Merced and the Central Valley with triple-digit heat is rapidly melting the Sierra snowpack, resulting in the swollen creeks and rivers. Forecasters with the National Weather Service office in Hanford say that the snow melts during the day but takes four to six hours for the water to reach the Yosemite Valley floor. The record flooding of January 1997 reached 23 1/2 feet and caused more than $178 million in damages.
Despite the valley floor's soggy bottom, it's still a good time for a visit to the park, which is offering free admission on Tuesday for the first official day of summer.
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"High water equals awesome waterfalls," Cobb said.