Due to catastrophic rainfall and record flash flooding on Friday (August 5), Death Valley National Park was forced to shut down entirely, trapping roughly 1,000 individuals (500 visitors and 500 staff members) inside.
The park experienced “unprecedented amounts of rainfall” of 1.46 inches, which caused substantial flooding that swept away cars, leaving at least 60 vehicles buried in mud and debris.
That amount of rainfall represents nearly 75% of a year’s worth of total rain for the area, which sees an average precipitation of 2 inches per year.
“Entire trees and boulders were washing down,” said John Sirlin, a photographer.
Sirlin shared videos and pictures on social media that showed swiftly moving water, uprooted palm trees, and cars wedged in a pile of debris.
Highway 190 and Badwater Rd junction. Whole palm trees from the hotel were washing over the road. pic.twitter.com/44I5nf9dGy
— John Sirlin (@SirlinJohn) August 5, 2022
“It was more extreme than anything I’ve seen there,” said Sirlin.
“I’ve never seen it to the point where entire trees and boulders were washing down. The noise from some of the rocks coming down the mountain was just incredible,” he said during a phone interview.
“There were at least two dozen cars that got smashed and stuck in there,” Sirlin explained.
During the storm, the “flood waters pushed dumpster containers into parked cars, which caused cars to collide into one another. Additionally, many facilities are flooded including hotel rooms and business offices,” according to the park statement.
Park officials said that most of the cars damaged were in a parking lot.
ATTN DRIVERS: Our partners at @DeathValleyNPS have provided an update on the status of the park:
– All roads into and out of the park are closed and will remain closed until park staff can assess the extensiveness of the situation.
📸 Credit: Death Valley National Park pic.twitter.com/5y5zgqgOjA
— Caltrans District 9 (@Caltrans9) August 5, 2022
It marks the second major flash flood event to hit Death Valley National Park this week.
Luckily, there have been no reports of injuries.
The flooding on Friday at Death Valley National Park came a week after monsoonal downpours flooded the Las Vegas Strip, a typically dry area, submerging casino floors and uprooting countless trees.
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