Death Valley National Park Experiences Rare, Massive Flooding


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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Death Valley National Park experienced a 1,000 year rain event Friday, the latest in a series of weird weather events washing over the U.S.

Nearly an entire year’s worth of rainfall landed over America’s hottest and driest environment, Death Valley, within three hours, according to a news release from the National Park Service. The preliminary rainfall calculations suggest that 1.46 inches of rain fell in the Furnace Creek area, just short of the record of 1.47 inches, the release noted.

“The heavy rain that caused the devastating flooding at Death Valley was an extremely rare, 1000-year event,” National Weather Service Las Vegas meteorologist Daniel Berc said, according to NPS, “A 1000-year event doesn’t mean it happens once per 1000 years, rather that there is a 0.1% chance of occurring in any given year.”

These figures represent around 75% of the annual expected rainfall for the area, according to CBS News. At least 60 vehicles and various structures were buried in mud or damaged by the event. The downpour also trapped about 1,000 staff and visitors in the park, the Washington Post noted.

“Death Valley is an incredible place of extremes,” park superintendent Mike Reynolds said in the NPS statement, “It is the hottest place in the world, and the driest place in North America. This week’s 1,000 year flood is another example of this extreme environment. With climate change models predicting more frequent and more intense storms, this is a place where you can see climate change in action!”

The major impacts to the area include the destruction of the Cow Creek water system, a critical service for park residences, and the park’s facilities including the Emergency Operations Building, according to NPS. The damage was described as “catastrophic” as over 600 feet of the water main was destroyed by flash flooding, images of which were shared to the public by the park.

Many miles of roadways have been impacted by debris and asphalt damage from the floods, NPS noted. Those sheltering in the park and park residents have not reported any injuries as a result of the flooding. (RELATED: Rescue Team Helps Pull Dog From Flooded River In Los Angeles)

The U.S. has experienced four 1-in-1000 year rain events in the last two weeks, according to the Washington Post. Along with Death Valley, parts of Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois were deluged by extreme flooding, the outlet noted.