Flash floods strand 1,000 people in California’s Death Valley National Park

A view shows monsoon rain that flooded Mud Canyon in Death Valley National Park, California, U.S., August 5, 2022. National Park Service/Handout via REUTERS

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Aug 5 (Reuters) – A flash flood triggered by a near-record downpour on Friday in one of the hottest and driest places on earth has stranded nearly 1,000 people in Death Valley National Park in California and forced its temporary closure, park officials said.

About 60 cars belonging to park visitors and staff were buried under several feet of debris at the Inn at Death Valley, a historic luxury hotel near park headquarters in Furnace Creek, site of a spring-fed oasis near the Nevada border, the park said. in a report.

The floodwaters also pushed dumpsters into parked cars, pushing vehicles against each other, and inundated many facilities, some hotel rooms and offices, he added.

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No injuries were reported. But about 500 visitors and 500 park staff were unable to leave the park because all roads in and out of Death Valley were closed, the statement said.

A water treatment system that serves the Cow Creek area for residents and park offices has been taken out of service.

The flood was triggered by a torrential downpour that dumped 1.46 inches (3.7 cm) of rain in Furnace Creek, nearly matching the previous daily record of 1.47 inches measured from a downpour in 1988, said park spokeswoman Amy Wines.

By comparison, the park averages 2.2 inches of precipitation per year, making it the driest place in North America. Furnace Creek holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth, 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.7 degrees C), Wines said.

Flash floods from monsoon rains are a natural part of Death Valley’s ecology and occur somewhere in the park almost every year, constantly sculpting and reshaping its spectacular canyon landscape.

But a flood of the magnitude seen last Friday hit Death Valley in August 2004, forcing a 10-day closure of all its roads and killing two people whose vehicles were swept away, according to Wines.

The US Park Service said no more monsoon rain was expected immediately, but additional downpours were expected in the coming days. It was not immediately clear how soon the park would reopen to road traffic.

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Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Kim Coghill

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