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latest news ‘Unprecedented’ rain, floods close Death Valley park, swallowing cars and stranding hundreds

Death Valley National Park, famous for its otherworldly arid landscapes, closed completely on Friday due to historic rainfall and flash flooding. Around 500 visitors and 500 staff were stranded in the park after the closures, with no major injuries reported, although around 60 vehicles were damaged.

The park experienced “unprecedented rainfall amounts” of 1.46 inches measured at Furnace Creek, which caused extensive flooding. The precipitation total is in line with the previous daily record of 1.47 inches.

No additional rain is expected on Friday, but the incident marks the second time flash flooding has been seen in the park this week. On Monday, flooding affected many roads and a Facebook post from the park showed a vehicle buried up to the headlights in dirt and gravel.

Highway 190 is closed due to flash flooding in Death Valley National Park on Friday.

(National Park Service)

“Flood waters pushed dumpsters into parked cars, causing the cars to crash into each other,” the park said in a statement. “In addition, many facilities are flooded, including hotel rooms and offices.”

Park officials noted that most of the damaged vehicles were in a parking lot.

On Friday evening, most visitors remained in the developed area of ​​the park, with even a few managing to leave the park as crews managed to create makeshift roads by moving mounds of gravel.

“All roads into and out of the park are currently closed and will remain closed until park staff can assess the extent of the situation,” the park said in its statement.

The reopening of some roads was expected to take about six hours from Friday morning. As of 6 p.m., however, all roads remained closed and it was unclear when they would reopen.

The last time a closure of this size occurred in Death Valley was in August 2004, when a rainstorm caused flash flooding, said Abby Wines, public information officer for the Death Valley. Rainfall totals for this incident are unknown.

The park did not open for 10 days, Wines said.

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