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

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – Flash flooding in Death Valley National Park triggered by heavy rains on Friday buried cars, forced authorities to close all roads in and outside Death Valley National Park. outside the park and stranded about 1,000 people, officials said.

The park near the California-Nevada border received at least 1.7 inches (4.3 centimeters) of rain in the Furnace Creek area, which park officials said in a statement amounted to ” almost a whole year of rain in one morning”. The park’s average annual rainfall is 1.9 inches (4.8 centimeters).

About 60 vehicles were buried in the debris and about 500 visitors and 500 park employees were stranded, park officials said. No injuries were immediately reported, and the California Department of Transportation estimated it would take four to six hours to open a road that would allow park visitors to leave.

It was the second major flood in the park this week. Some roads were closed on 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., said John Sirlin, a photographer for an Arizona-based adventure company, who witnessed the flooding while perching on a rock on the hillside where he was trying to take pictures of lightning as the storm approaches.

“It was more extreme than anything I’ve seen there,” said Sirlin, who lives in Chandler, Ariz., and has been visiting the park since 2016. He’s the lead guide for Incredible Weather Adventures and has said he started chasing storms in Minnesota. and the high plains in the 1990s.

“I’ve never seen it to the point where whole trees and rocks were washed away. The sound of some of the rocks coming down the mountain was just amazing,” he said in a phone interview on Friday. afternoon.

“A lot of the washes were flowing several feet deep. There are probably 3 or 4 foot boulders covering the road,” he said.

Sirlin said it took her about 6 hours to walk about 35 miles (56 kilometers) out of the park from the Death Valley Inn.


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