Death Valley engulfed in record floods, nearly 1,000 stranded in the park

Suspension

Death Valley National Park closed Saturday after exceptional amounts of rain inundated the park on Friday, causing flooding that stranded nearly 1,000 visitors and park staff.

The park received 1.46 inches of rain in the Furness Creek area—a number just shy of the previous calendar day’s record of 1.47 inches, set on April 15, 1988. This equates to about three-quarters of what the area would normally receive on average, 1.94 inches, It is the largest amount ever recorded in August, the lowest, driest and hottest location in the United States, and Death Valley’s average rainfall is only 0.11 inch in August.

“Everything is going well,” said Nikki Jones, a server assistant at a restaurant at the Ranch Inn in the park, who also lives there as of Saturday morning. Post a video Flood from her colleague on Twitter. Jones told the Washington Post that the floodwaters receded on Friday afternoon, but light debris remained on the roads.

“CalTrans did a great job cleaning it up ASAP,” she told The Post in a Twitter post. “I drove the car today.”

Jones said some people are stranded at the Inn at the Oasis due to trapped cars, “but people are able to get out of the park today.”

“The floodwaters pushed trash cans into parked cars, causing the cars to collide with each other,” the National Park Service said in a statement Friday. In addition, many facilities including hotel rooms and commercial offices were inundated with water.

NPS did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for an update on Saturday morning.

The torrent was caused by the southwest monsoon, which develops every summer as the prevailing winds shift from outside the west to outside the south, resulting in a rise in humidity towards the north. This moisture can lead to torrential rains that inundate dry desert landscapes. Because there is little soil to absorb rain, any measurable rain can cause flooding in low-lying areas, and heavy rain can collect in typically dry streams, causing flash floods.

This year the southwest monsoon has been particularly severe – which has helped ease drought conditions in the area but has also led to several major flood events. Serious flooding recently affected areas around Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Las Vegas floods water flows through casinos

Death Valley flooding also comes amid a series of heavy rain events over the lower 48 states. Over the course of the week that spanned the end of July and the beginning of August, three rain events occurred every 1,000 years – they flooded St. Louis, eastern Kentucky, and southeastern Illinois. Earlier this summer, Yellowstone National Park was also inundated.

How two rain events every 1 in 1,000 years hit the United States in two days

Death Valley holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth, as well as several runners-up. Officially, Death Valley reached 134 degrees on July 10, 1913, but some climate scientists have questioned the legitimacy of that reading. The second highest temperature recorded, 131 degrees by Me, Tunisia, set on July 7, 1931, is also controversial. Last summer and the summer before, Death Valley had a temperature of 130 degrees, which would be the highest pair of temperatures ever reliably measured on Earth if the 1931 Tunisia and 1913 Death Valley readings are ignored.

Death Valley’s temperature rises to 130 degrees, matching the hottest temperature on Earth in at least 90 years

The downpour inundated the park, trapping vehicles in the rubble, according to a video tweeted by John Cerlin, a storm undertaker in Arizona. He wrote that the roads were blocked by rocks and fallen palm trees, and that visitors struggled for six hours to leave the park.

Earlier this week, flash floods hit parts of western Nevada, forcing the closure of some roads into the park from Las Vegas. Flash floods also hit parts of northern Arizona.

Flash floods close roads to Death Valley National Park

Cerlin told The Associated Press that rain on Friday started around 2 a.m. and was “more intense than anything I’ve seen out there.”

“There were at least two dozen cars that crashed and got stuck there,” he said, adding that he saw laundry flowing several feet deep even though he hadn’t seen anyone injured, and the NPS did not report any injuries as of Friday.

Last July, Death Valley’s rare summer rain also drenched Death Valley, reaching 0.74 inches a day at Furnace Creek nearly two weeks after the park set the world record for the highest average daily temperature, at 118.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heavy rain in the desert: Rare summer rain inundated Death Valley and parts of California on Monday

Scientists say human-caused warming of the climate is intensifying extreme precipitation events. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found some evidence of increased precipitation from the southwest monsoon since the 1970s.

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