Flash flooding leaves hundreds stranded in Death Valley National Park

Heavy rain on Friday caused flash floods in Death Valley National Park, jammed cars, forced officials to close all roads in and out of the park, and trapped nearly 1,000 people, officials said.

The Furnace Creek area in the park near the California-Nevada state line received at least 1.7 inches of rain, which park officials said in a statement, “represents nearly a full year’s worth of rain in one morning.” The average annual rainfall of the park is 1.9 inches.

Park officials said around 60 vehicles were buried under the rubble and about 500 visitors and 500 park employees were trapped. There were no immediate reports of injuries and the California Department of Transportation estimated that it would take four to six hours to open a road that would allow park visitors to leave.

This was the second major flooding incident in the park this week. On Monday, some roads were closed after mud and debris were flooded by flash floods caused by severe flooding in western Nevada and northern Arizona.

The rain started around 2 a.m., said John Sirlin, a photographer with an Arizona-based adventure company who witnessed the flood while he was sitting on a mountain boulder trying to take pictures of lightning as the storm approached.

“It was more extreme than anything I’ve seen there,” said Sirlin, who lives in Chandler, Arizona, and has been visiting the park since 2016. He is the lead guide for Incredible Weather Adventures and said he started chasing stormtroopers in Minnesota. and high ground in the 1990s.

“I’ve never seen it to the point where all the trees and stones were being washed away. The noise of some rocks coming down from the mountain was unbelievable,” he said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

“They were flowing in water several feet deep. There are probably 3 or 4 feet of rocks covering the road,” he said.

Sirlin said it took him about 6 hours to drive the nearly 35 miles from the park near the inn in Death Valley.

“At least two dozen cars were smashed and stuck there,” he said, adding that he did not see anyone injured “or any high water rescues.”

The park’s statement said that during Friday’s thunderstorm, “flood water pushed dumpster containers into parked cars, causing the cars to collide with each other. Additionally, many facilities, including hotel rooms and business offices, were flooded.” Gone.”

A water system providing it for park residents and offices also failed after a line broke, which was being repaired, the statement said.

The National Weather Service said the flash flood warning for the park and surrounding area ended at 12:45 p.m. Friday, but the flood warning remained in effect until evening.

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