Tourists flee flash floods in Death Valley; roads will be closed for days

Hundreds of hotel guests trapped Flash floods in Death Valley National Park They were able to drive out after crews cleared a road through rocks and dirt, but roads damaged by flooding or clogged with debris are expected to remain closed through next week, officials said Saturday.

The National Park Service said the Navy and California Highway Patrol helicopters had been conducting aerial searches of the stranded vehicle in the remote area but could not find it. However, assessing the damage could take days—the park near the California-Nevada border has more than 1,000 miles of roads and 3.4 million acres.

The record rainfall on Friday caused no casualties. The park experienced 1.46 inches of rain in the Furnace Creek area. That’s about 75 percent of what the region typically gets in a year, and more than was recorded for the entire month of August.

death valley lightning flood ap22217835522460.jpg
In this photo provided by the National Park Service, cars are trapped in mud and debris after flooding at the Death Valley Lodge in Death Valley National Park, California, Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Heavy rainfall triggered flooding that closed several roads near the California-Nevada line in Death Valley National Park on Friday. The National Weather Service reported that all park roads were closed after a short period of 1 to 2 inches of rain.

Via AP National Park Service

The only rainy day since 1936 was April 15, 1988, when 1.47 inches of rain fell, park officials said.

Restaurant worker Nikki Jones, who was staying at the hotel with colleagues, said it was raining when she went to breakfast on Friday morning. When she came back, the water that quickly gathered had reached the door of the room.

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

Fearing water would get into their first-floor room, Jones and her friends put their luggage on the bed and use towels at the bottom of the door to keep water from getting in. For about two hours, they wondered if they would be flooded.

“People around me say they’ve never seen anything this bad before — they’ve been working here for a while,” Jones said.

While their room survived, five or six other rooms in the hotel were flooded. The carpets in these rooms were later torn off.

Most of the rain — just over an inch — between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. Friday was epic, said John Adair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. downpour.

Adair said the flooding “cut off access to and from Death Valley, only washing the road and creating a lot of debris.”

Officials said Highway 190 — a major thoroughfare through the park — is expected to reopen Tuesday between Furnace Creek and Pahrump, Nevada.

Flash floods leave hundreds stranded in Death Valley National Park
Flash floods damaged a road in Death Valley National Park on the California-Nevada border. August 5, 2022.

National Park Service

In addition to the emergency, park employees, who were trapped by the closed roads, continued to shelter in place, officials said.

“Whole trees and boulders were washed away,” said John Serling, a photographer for an Arizona adventure company who witnessed flooding from a boulder on a hillside and was trying to take pictures of lightning as the storm approached .

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

In most areas, the water has receded, leaving behind a dense layer of dirt and gravel. About 60 cars were partially buried in dirt and debris. There have been numerous reports of road damage, and residential water lines in the park’s Cow Creek area have been damaged in multiple locations. About 20 palm trees fell on the road near a hotel, and some staff homes were also damaged.

“Because of the severity and breadth of this rain, it will take time to rebuild and reopen everything,” Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds said in a statement.

The storm followed heavy flooding in the park 120 miles northwest of Las Vegas earlier this week. Some roads were flooded with dirt and debris on Monday, as flash floods also battered western Nevada and northern Arizona.

Friday’s rain started around 2 a.m., according to Xilin, who lives in Chandler, Arizona, and has been visiting the park since 2016.

“It’s more extreme than anything I’ve seen out there,” said Sirlin, principal guide at Incredible Weather Adventures, who began chasing storms in Minnesota and the Highlands in the 1990s.

“A lot of water was a few feet deep. There was maybe 3 or 4 feet of rock covering the road,” he said.

At the same time, heavy rainfall also soaked Las Vegas. Water pours into casino ceiling.

Several other national parks have also suffered severe flooding this summer.In June, Yellowstone sees historical flood level This washed out many of the park’s roads, forcing visitors to evacuate. Some roads remain closed for repairs.

The National Park Service says most of its properties and surrounding towns are affected by climate change — from rising sea levels in the Florida Everglades to Drought-induced fires in Yosemite, California.

elsewhere, Flooding hits parts of Kentucky at the end of July. At least 35 people died and hundreds lost their homes.

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