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Flash Floods: Buried cars and stranded tourists in Death Valley national park

Flash flooding at Death Valley national park closed all roads into the park, buried cars and stranded about 1,000 people on Friday.

A deluge brought “nearly an entire year’s worth of rain in one morning” into the famously hot and dry park in the California desert. At least 1.7in of rain fell in the Furnace Creek area; the park’s average annual rainfall is 1.9in.

About 60 vehicles were buried in debris and about 500 visitors and 500 park workers were stranded, park officials said. There were no immediate reports of injuries and the California transport department estimated it would take four to six hours to open a road that would allow park visitors to leave.




It was the second major flooding event at the park this week. Some roads were closed on Monday after they were inundated with mud and debris from flash floods that also hit western Nevada and northern Arizona hard.

The rain started around 2am, said John Sirlin, a photographer for an Arizona-based adventure company who witnessed the flooding as he perched on a hillside boulder where he was trying to take pictures of lightning as the storm approached.

During Friday’s rainstorms, 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,” the park statement said.



A water system that provides it for park residents and offices also failed after a line broke that was being repaired, the statement said.

A flood advisory had remained in effect into the evening, the National Weather Service said.