Death Valley Roads Remain Closed Due to Flooding

Tourists find refuge as Death Valley roads remain closed due to flooding
Death Valley Flooding

What is Death Valley?

Death Valley is an arid desert valley in eastern California, bordering the Great Basin Desert in the northern Mojave Desert. It is one of the hottest regions on Earth during the summer, along with deserts in the Middle East and the Sahara.

Death Valley Flooding

Stranded People In Death Valley

Hundreds of hotel guests trapped in Death Valley National Park by flash flooding were able to drive out after workers cut a path through boulders and mud. Still, roads damaged by floodwaters or choked with debris were expected to remain closed until next week, officials said Saturday.

According to the National Park Service, Navy and California Highway Patrol helicopters have searched for stranded vehicles in isolated locations but have discovered none. However, assessing the damage might take days because the park on the California-Nevada state line includes nearly 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometres) of highway spread across 3.4 million acres (1.3 million hectares).

There were no injuries due to Friday’s record-breaking rains. The Furnace Creek portion of the park received 1.46 inches (3.71 cm) of precipitation. That’s over 75% of what the area gets in a year and more than has ever been recorded for August.

According to park officials, the only single day with greater rain since 1936 was April 15, 1988, when 1.47 inches (3.73 centimetres) fell.

Witness and Park Rangers Accounts

Nikki Jones, a restaurant worker, sharing a hotel room with her coworkers, said it was raining when she left for breakfast on Friday morning. When she returned, the swiftly collecting water had reached the room’s doorway.

“I couldn’t believe it,” stated Jones. “I’d never seen water rise that quickly in my life.”

Jones and her pals put their bags on beds and used towels at the bottom of doorways to prevent water from entering their ground-floor accommodation. For approximately two hours, they worried about being swamped.

“People around me were saying they’d never seen anything this horrible before — and they’d worked here for a long time,” Jones explained.

While their room was not flooded, five or six other rooms in the hotel were. The carpet in the rooms was afterwards removed.


Death Valley Flooding

Highway 190, which runs through the park, is scheduled to reopen between Furnace Creek and Pahrump, Nevada, by Tuesday, according to officials.

Officials added that Park staff who were stranded by the closed roadways were also continuing to shelter in place.

“Entire trees and boulders were rushing down,” said John Sirlin, a photographer with an Arizona-based adventure firm who saw the floods while perched on a mountainside boulder, attempting to film lightning as the storm approached.

“The noise from some of the rocks falling down the mountain was just tremendous,” he remarked Friday afternoon.

Most of the water has drained, leaving a solid coating of dirt and gravel behind. Approximately 60 automobiles were partially submerged in mud and debris. There were several reports of road damage, and multiple home water pipes in the park’s Cow Creek region were broken. Nearly 20 palm trees fell into the road near one of the inns, and some staff apartments were destroyed.

“With the severity and widespread nature of this rainfall, rebuilding and reopening everything will take time,” park superintendent Mike Reynolds said.

The storm came after heavy floods at the park 120 miles (193 kilometres) northeast of Las Vegas earlier this week. Some highways were closed Monday due to mud and debris from flash floods that affected western Nevada and northern Arizona.

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According to Sirlin, the rain began at 2 a.m. on Friday. “It was more intense than anything I’d seen there,” said Sirlin, Incredible Weather Adventures’ lead guide, who began following storms in Minnesota and the high plains in the 1990s.

“There were quite a few washes that were several feet deep. “There are maybe 3 or 4 feet of rocks covering the road,” he stated.


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