Tourists escape flash flooding in Death Valley; roads to remain closed for days

Hundreds of hotel guests trapped Flash floods in Death Valley National Park Officials said on Saturday that crews were able to get out after clearing rocks and mud, but roads damaged by floodwaters or covered with rubble are expected to remain closed until next week.

The National Park Service said the Navy and California Highway Patrol helicopters were conducting aerial searches in remote areas for stranded vehicles, but found none. However, it may take days to assess the damage—the park near the California-Nevada state line has more than 1,000 miles of roadway across 3.4 million acres.

There was no report of any casualty due to the record breaking rain on Friday. The park in the Furnace Creek area received 1.46 inches of rain. This is about 75% of the area that is usually covered in a year, and more has been recorded in the entire month of August.

Park officials said that since 1936, the only day with more rain was April 15, 1988, when 1.47 inches had fallen.

Nikki Jones, a restaurant worker staying at a hotel with fellow employees, said it was raining when she went out for breakfast on Friday morning. By the time she returned, the rapidly accumulating water had reached the door of the room.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Jones said. “I had never seen water move so fast in my life.”

Afraid that water would get into their ground floor room, Jones and his friends put their belongings on the beds and used towels under the door so that the water would not seep in. For about two hours, they wondered if they would get flooded.

“People around me were saying they’ve never looked so bad before — and they’ve worked here for a while,” Jones said.

While his room was spared, five or six other rooms in the hotel were flooded. Later the carpet was removed from those rooms.

John Adair, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Las Vegas, said most of the rain — just over an inch — fell between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday in a pounding rain.

“The floods “cut off access to and from Death Valley, just washed away the roads and created a lot of debris,” Adair said.

Highway 190 – a main artery through the park – is expected to reopen between Furnace Creek and Pahrump, Nevada by Tuesday, officials said.

Officials said park workers stranded due to closed roads are also taking shelter at various places, except in case of emergency.

“The whole trees and boulders were washing away,” said photographer John Sirlin of an Arizona-based adventure company, who saw the flooding as he was sitting on a mountain boulder trying to take pictures of the lightning as the storm approached.

“The noise of some rocks coming down from the mountain was unbelievable,” he said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

Water has receded in most areas, leaving behind a dense layer of clay and gravel. Around 60 vehicles were partially buried in the mud and debris. There were several reports of road damage, and residential water lines broken in several places in the Cow Creek area of ​​the park. Around 20 palm trees fell on the road near an inn, and some employees’ residences were also damaged.

“With the severity and widespread nature of this rain, it will take time to rebuild and reopen,” park superintendent Mike Reynolds said in a statement.

The park, 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas, suffered major flooding after a hurricane earlier this week. On Monday, some roads were closed after mud and debris were flooded by flash floods in western Nevada and northern Arizona.

According to Sirlin, who lives in Chandler, Arizona, and has been visiting the park since 2016, Friday’s rain began around 2 p.m.

“It was more extreme than anything I’ve seen there,” said Sirlin, lead guide for Incredible Weather Adventures, who began chasing storms in Minnesota and the highlands in the 1990s.

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

Meanwhile, heavy rain also drenched Las Vegas, where water poured into casino roofs,

Several other national parks have faced severe flooding this summer. In June, Yellowstone observed Historical level of flood It flooded many of the park’s roads and forced tourists to venture out. Some roads are closed for repair,

The National Park Service said most of its properties and surrounding cities have been affected by climate change – from rising sea levels in Florida’s Everglades Drought caused fire in Yosemite, California,

elsewhere, Parts of Kentucky devastated by floods At the end of July. At least 35 people died, and hundreds lost their homes.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *