Floods continue to wreak havoc in the US, most recently at Death Valley National Park in California, where flash floods triggered by heavy rainfall left 1,000 people stranded and crushed cars.
Park officials said the Furnace Creek area of the park, near the Nevada-California state line, experienced 1.7 inches of rain, which they described as ‘nearly an entire year’s worth of rain in one morning.’
The officials also said about 60 vehicles were buried by the rushing floodwaters, and 500 park visitors and 500 park workers were left stranded, though no injuries have been reported.
The California Department of Transportation said it may take four to six hours to clear a main road out of the park, which would allow visitors to leave.
‘All roads into and out of the park are currently closed and will remain closed until park staff can assess the extensiveness of the situation,’ the National Park Service said Friday.
Park officials at Death Valley National Park said flash floods that left 1,000 stranded were caused by ‘nearly an entire year’s worth of rain in one morning’
The Furnace Creek area of the park, near the Nevada-California state line, experienced an unprecedented 1.7 inches of rain
60 vehicles were also wrecked in the floods, as they crashed into each other and were hit by floating dumpsters
A park statement said Friday’s rainstorms and floods ‘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 statement continued.
The park also confirmed a water system that services park residents and offices failed after a line that was being repaired broke because of the floods.
Before Friday’s rains, the notoriously dry park had only experienced 0.04 inches of rain in 2022, making it a historically dry year.
The rain started at approximately 2 a.m., park visitor and photographer John Sirlin told CBS. Sirlin was attempting to take pictures of the lightning as the storm approached.
‘It was more extreme than anything I’ve seen there,’ he said. Sirlin has been visiting the park since 2016 and has been chasing storms since the 1990’s.
This handout panoramic image courtesy of Death Valley National Park Service shows monsoonal rain flooding Mud Canyon in Death Valley National Park, California on August 5, 2022
Before Friday’s rains, the notoriously dry park had only experienced 0.04 inches of rain in 2022
The damaged intersection of Kelbacker Road and Mojave Road in the Mojave National Preserve, California; photo taken Sunday, July 31, 2022
‘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 Friday afternoon.
The flash flood warning was removed for the park just after noon on Friday, but a flood advisory remains in effect, according to the National Weather Service.
Experts say that the ever-increasing concentrations of heat-trapping gases, mainly from the combustion of fossil fuels, have caused the average temperature to increase by 1.1 degrees Celsius, or two degrees Fahrenheit, every year since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
And with each degree Celsius the temperature increases, the air can hold 7 percent more moisture, leading to more severe storms.
Making matters worse, flooding associated with sea level rise is already accelerating, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
‘Sea level rise impacts are happening now, and are growing rapidly,’ William Sweet explains in the report, noting that the rising sea level could exacerbate flooding from storms, which push more ocean water onto land.
The saltwater could also fill underground drainage pipes, which means rainwater could back up and collect in the streets.
By 2050, the report estimates, high tides could send water into neighborhoods dozens of days each year.