The roads and infrastructure in Death Valley experienced extensive financial losses as a result of subsequent flash floods and an extremely rare heavy rainfall event known as a “1,000-year storm.” When the initial monsoonal downpour occurred in early August, significant flooding ensued, leading to the closure of multiple roads and causing damage to the roadways.
Since September 13, some of the park’s most popular attractions and roads have been extensively damaged due to the resulting flooding caused by monsoonal storms in Death Valley.
Stovepipe Wells, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Harmony Borax Works, Campground and Visitor Center Furnace Creek, The Oasis at Death Valley, Zabriskie Point, and Dantes View are the sole locations that visitors can access by car. This implies that the exclusive entrance to the park is from the eastern side, through Death Valley Junction and California Highway 190 (CA-190), and the majority of asphalted roads leading to Death Valley are presently inaccessible. As a result,
The west entrance to Death Valley remains closed due to extensive damage on CA-190 west of the area, and the California Department of Transportation has yet to provide an estimated timeline for reopening the road.
Park management is currently expecting to open the road from CA-190 to Badwater Basin by September 24. Certain parts of the road have eroded, resulting in unsafe cliffs, and the road’s edges are cluttered with debris reaching heights of up to three feet. Meanwhile, the National Park Service is dedicated to the restoration of Badwater Road.
Exclaimed in a declaration, Mike Reynolds, the superintendent of Death Valley, exclaimed, “These past few weeks have been filled with thrilling precipitation, unprecedented high temperatures, and even the remnants of a hurricane!” “In the near future, we can achieve tangible advancements in reopening more sections of the park. Let’s hope that there are no additional storms predicted.”
On July 10, 1913, Valley Death recorded its highest official temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature often exceeds 120 degrees and averages over 100 degrees from May to September, making it the hottest and driest national park in the United States. Valley Death National Park is located a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Flash deluges are initiated by water from intense downpours infiltrating typically arid streams. Conversely, significant precipitation can result in inundation in low-lying regions due to the limited capacity of the soil to absorb water. The occurrence of flash floods during the Southwest monsoon rains in August is an inherent aspect of Death Valley’s ecosystem.
For example, intense precipitation from seasonal thunderstorms in Death Valley last month resulted in flooding that damaged several roads and park facilities.
The automated gauge recorded the measurement. The measurement indicated that there was a rainfall of 1.46 inches at Furnace Creek in Death Valley within a span of 3 hours, as initially reported by the National Weather Service. This event, referred to as a “1,000-year-storm,” occurred on August 5, a few days later.
The National Weather Service now recognizes a record-setting rainfall of 1.70 inches, which was recorded by the park rangers at Service Park National. However, the weather station at Creek Furnace tells a different story, as it has two rain gauges that provide a more accurate measurement.
Surprisingly, a rainfall of 1.70 inches accounts for three-quarters of Death Valley’s average annual rainfall amount of 2.20 inches.
According to the National Park Service, Daniel Berc, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service Las Vegas, stated that the severe rainfall which resulted in the destructive floods in Death Valley was an exceptionally uncommon occurrence that happens once every 1,000 years. Berc clarified that this implies there is only a 0.1 percent probability of it happening in any given year and that a 1,000-year event does not mean it occurs precisely once per 1,000 years.
Be Informed Prior to Departure
The Mesquite Springs, Sunset, Texas Spring, and Stovepipe Wells campgrounds have been shut down, whereas the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and Campground remain accessible. Additionally, numerous attractions within the park have been closed, resulting in the closure of several roads in Death Valley.
You can discover an up-to-date compilation of roads, trails, and camping areas that are inaccessible at Death Valley here.