Hundreds of staff and visitors were stranded at the national park Friday morning after rainy weather caused major flooding, Park Service officials said.
Heavy rain pushed dirt and debris onto roads around Death Valley National Park, making them impassable and forcing officials to close the park. The National Park Service (NPS) said the decision left 500 staff and 500 tourists stranded inside.
“Approximately 500 visitors and 500 staff are currently unable to exit the park. There were no injuries to staff or visitors,” the National Park Service said in a statement Friday.
“On August 5, 2022, unprecedented rainfall caused extensive flooding in Death Valley National Park. All roads in and out of the park are currently closed and will remain closed until park staff can assess the extent of the situation,” the statement said. .
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The California Department of Transportation said it will take several hours to clear roads pending cooperative weather.
“Approximately sixty cars of visitors and staff were buried under several feet of debris at the Inn at Death Valley,” the NPS said. “Flood water pushed dumpster containers into parked cars, causing the cars to collide with each other. In addition, several facilities including hotel rooms and business offices were inundated.”
“The Cow Creek water system that supplies water to the Cow Creek area to park residents and offices has failed. Park staff have identified a major break in the line due to flooding which is being repaired. Remaining line work is ongoing. Inspected,” the statement added.
According to the NPS, the park received 1.46 inches of rain on Friday, which was about 75% of what the area typically receives in a year.
This nearly matches the daily record of 1.47 inches set on April 15, 1988.
California firefighters are aided by favorable weather in their battle against wildfires
The park was closed Friday after flash flooding disrupted travel on some roads on Highway 190 near Death Valley National Park on Monday.
“Remember: Turn back, don’t sink!” Death Valley National Park issued a warning to visitors.
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All park roads are closed until Friday. Also, Sunset, Texas Spring and Stovepipe Wells Campgrounds are closed.
Emergency services and the California Department of Transportation are assessing the situation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.