TOP STORIES Flash floods have turned Death Valley to mud, forcing...

Flash floods have turned Death Valley to mud, forcing hundreds of visitors


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Cars were stuck in mud and debris as flash flooding hit a Death Valley hotel in California’s Death Valley National Park on Friday.

National Park Service via hotspot

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National Park Service via hotspot

Cars were stuck in mud and debris as flash flooding hit a Death Valley hotel in California’s Death Valley National Park on Friday.

National Park Service via hotspot

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, California. Record rainfall on Friday triggered flash floods in Death Valley National Park that washed away cars, closed all roads and left hundreds of visitors and workers stranded.

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

A park near the California-Nevada state line received 1.46 inches (3.71 centimeters) of rain in the Furnace Creek area. That’s about 75% of what the area typically receives in a year, and more than ever recorded for all of August.

Since 1936, the only day with more rain since 1936 has been April 15, 1988, when 1.47 inches (3.73 centimeters) fell, according to park officials.

“Entire trees and boulders were swept away by the water,” said John Sirlin, an Arizona adventure photographer who witnessed the flooding perched on a hillside boulder where he was trying to photograph lightning as the storm approached.

“The noise from some of the rocks coming down the mountain was just incredible,” he said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

Park officials did not immediately respond to requests for updates Friday night.

The storm followed another major flood Earlier this week in a park 120 miles (193 km) northeast of Las Vegas. Some roads were closed on Monday after they were flooded with mud and debris from flash floods that also hit western Nevada and northern Arizona hard.

It began to rain around 2 a.m. 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 Sirlin, lead guide for Incredible Weather Adventures, who began chasing storms in Minnesota and the high plains in the 1990s.

“A lot of water flowed several feet deep. The road was covered with stones, probably 3 or 4 feet,” he said.

Sirlin said it took him about 6 hours to drive about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from the park to the hotel in Death Valley.

“At least two dozen cars were wrecked and stuck there,” he said, adding that he did not see any victims or rescuers during the flood.

During Friday’s downpours, “flood waters pushed garbage cans into parked cars, causing the cars to collide with each other. In addition, many facilities, including hotel rooms and offices, were flooded,” the park said in a statement.

The water supply system, which supplies park residents and offices, also failed after a repaired line broke, the statement said.

A flash flood warning for the park and surrounding area expired at 12:45 p.m. Friday, but the flood warning remained in effect until evening, the National Weather Service said.

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