Internet Goes Hysterical Over Hot Roads in Yellowstone Park, Hypes Volcano Doom
Yellowstone National Park officials have been fielding calls from all over the world after the international press picked up on a story about some really, really hot roads.
"A couple days ago, we found out that a popular loop drive off of the grand loop road called Firehole Lake Drive had been experiencing a lot of heat," said Yellowstone National Park spokesman Dan Hottle. "The surface of the asphalt had bubbled up and melted and got kinda soupy. We got calls that cars were getting stuck in the muck."
Investigators recorded surface temperatures on the road at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, but hot temperatures aren’t enough to garner worldwide attention. It turns out that the angle a lot of the press was using was that this was more evidence that the giant volcano under the park was about to explode (example of hyped coverage). Hottle says this is the third story in a row that has garnered major attention, even though it is really just an example of everyday life in the park.
"It was a snowball effect of a bunch of things," Hottle said. "It was a study that the University of Utah did that found that the caldera was bigger and closer, that the magma plume underneath the ground was closer than originally thought... so that was sound science. Then we had an earthquake swarm that included a 4.7 magnitude quake, which is fairly significant, but we also get like 15,000 earthquakes a year here. Then that earthquake report was tied to a video that someone shot of bison running in Yellowstone park..."
Many on the internet speculated that the bison were running out of Yellowstone to escape the eminent explosion of the giant volcano which is under the park, when, in fact, the bison were actually behaving pretty normal and were actually running into the park. The melting roads added a new element to the volcano explosion story and now, Hottle says, he's done over 150 media interviews on the topic.
Hottle says the melting roads were caused by a combination of hot ground temperatures (caused by some of the same thermal activity that generates the geysers in the region) and hot summer air. The roads should be fully repaired by the middle of July.