‘Unprecedented’ rain, flooding shuts Death Valley park, swallowing cars, stranding hundreds

Death Valley National Park, famed for its arid, otherworldly landscapes, shut down entirely on Friday due to historic rains and flash floods. About 500 visitors and 500 employees were stranded in the park after the closures with no major injuries reported, although about 60 vehicles were damaged.

The park experienced “unprecedented rainfall” of 1.46 inches as measured at Furnace Creek, causing significant flooding. Total rainfall equals the previous daily record of 1.47 inches.

No additional rain is expected on Friday, but the incident is the second time flash flooding has been observed in the park this week. Flooding hit many roads on Monday, and a Facebook post from the park showed a vehicle buried up to its headlights in dirt and gravel.

A two lane road full of water and mud

Highway 190 is closed Friday due to flash flooding in Death Valley National Park.

(National Park Service)

“The flood water pushed dumpsters into parked cars, causing cars to collide with each other,” the park said in a statement. “Also, many facilities are flooded, including hotel rooms and business offices.”

Park officials determined that most of the damaged vehicles were in a parking lot.

As of Friday night, most visitors stayed within the built-up area of ​​the park, and some even managed to exit the park when crews managed to create makeshift roads by moving mounds of gravel.

“All roads in and out of the park are currently closed and will remain closed until park staff can assess the extent of the situation,” the park said in its statement.

Some roads were expected to take around six hours to reopen from Friday morning. However, as of 6 p.m., all roads remained closed and it was unclear when they would reopen.

The last time Death Valley had a closure of this magnitude was in August 2004, when a rainstorm caused flash flooding, said Abby Wines, Death Valley’s public information officer. Rain totals for this incident are unknown.

The park has not been open for 10 days, Wines said.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-05/unprecedented-flooding-hits-death-valley-swallowed-cars-stranding-hundreds ‘Unprecedented’ rain, flooding shuts Death Valley park, swallowing cars, stranding hundreds

Alley Einstein

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