1,000 folks have been surprised by flash floods in Demise Valley Nationwide Park. folks

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) – Flash flooding in Death Valley National Park caused by heavy rains on Friday buried cars, forced officials to close all roads in and out of the park and stranded about 1,000 people, officials said.

At least 1.7 inches (4.3 centimeters) of rain fell in the Furnace Creek area of ​​the park, which is located near the California-Nevada state line, and park officials said in a statement that it was “almost a year’s worth of rain in one morning.” Average annual precipitation in the park is 1.9 inches (4.8 centimeters).

About 60 vehicles were buried in the debris and about 500 visitors and 500 park employees were trapped, park officials said. There were no immediate reports of injuries, and the California Department of Transportation estimated it would take four to six hours to reopen the road to park visitors.

This was the second major flood this week at the park. Some roads were closed Monday after mud and debris from flash flooding also hit western Nevada and northern Arizona.

The rain started around 2 a.m., said John Sirlin, a photographer with an Arizona-based adventure company who saw the flooding while sitting on a hillside boulder where he was trying to photograph lightning as the storm approached.

“It was more extreme than anything I’ve seen there,” said Sirlin, who lives in Chandler, Arizona and has been visiting the park since 2016. He’s the lead guide for Incredible Weather Adventures and said he got his start chasing storms in Minnesota. and in the high plains in 1990.

“I’ve never seen it to the extent that whole trees and boulders were washed away.” The noise of some of the rocks coming down the mountain was just incredible,” he said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

“A lot of the washes were running several feet deep. There are probably 3 or 4 feet of rock,” he said.

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

“There were at least two dozen cars that were wrecked and stuck,” he said, adding that he did not see anyone injured “or rescuers in the high water.”

During Friday’s downpours, “floodwater pushed trash containers into parked cars, causing the cars to collide with each other. In addition, many properties are flooded, including hotel rooms and business offices,” the park said in a statement.

The break in the line under repair also damaged the water supply system that supplies it to the park’s residents and offices, the report said.

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

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