Record floods leave hundreds stranded in Death Valley National Park

Record rainfall triggered flash floods in Death Valley National Park, taking cars, closing all roads and stranding hundreds of visitors and workers.

There were no immediate reports of injuries here, but about 60 vehicles were buried in mud and debris and about 500 visitors and 500 park workers were stranded in the park, officials said.

The park near the California-Nevada state line received 1.46 inches of rain in the Furnace Creek area.


Cars get stuck in mud and debris from flash floods at The Inn at Death Valley in Death Valley National Park, Calif. (National Park Service via AP)

That’s about 75% of what the area normally gets in a year, and more than ever recorded for the entire month of August.

Since 1936, April 15, 1988 was the only day with more rain than 1.47 inches, park officials said.

“Whole trees and boulders were washed down,” said John Sirlin, a photographer with an Arizona-based adventure company who witnessed the flooding as he sat on a boulder on the hillside and tried to photograph lightning as the storm approached.

“The noise from some of the rocks coming down the mountain was just amazing,” he said.

The storm followed another major flooding event in the park 120 miles northeast of Las Vegas earlier this week.


Highway 190 is closed due to flash flooding in Death Valley National Park (National Park Service via AP)

Some roads were closed Monday after being inundated with mud and debris from flash floods that also hit western Nevada and northern Arizona hard.

The rain started around 2 a.m. local time on Friday, according to Sirlin, who lives in Chandler, Arizona, and has been visiting the park since 2016.

“It was more extreme than anything I saw there,” said Mr. Sirlin, the lead guide for Incredible Weather Adventures, which began chasing storms in Minnesota and the Highlands in the 1990s.

“Many washes flowed several feet deep. There are rocks that probably cover the road three or four feet,” he said.

Mr Sirlin said it took him about six hours to drive about 35 miles from the park near the Inn at Death Valley.


Cars stuck in mud and debris (National Park Service via AP)

“There were at least two dozen cars that were smashed and stuck there,” he said, adding that he didn’t see any casualties “or flood rescues.”

During Friday’s rainstorms, “flood water pushed dumpsters into parked cars, causing cars to collide with each other. In addition, many facilities are flooded, including hotel rooms and business offices,” the park’s statement said.

A water system serving park residents and offices was also down after a line burst, which has been repaired, the statement said. Record floods leave hundreds stranded in Death Valley National Park

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