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Death Valley flooding to close roads for another week

Death Valley Flooding
Posted at 11:53 AM, Aug 12, 2022

DEATH VALLEY (KTNV) — Some roads to Death Valley are still closed after flood water inundated the Death Valley National Park last week.

NASA released images this week showing the extent of the flooding in Death Valleys Furnace Creek, and what roads are still shut down to traffic.

The National Weather Service is referring to it as a 'thousand-year flood', meaning the chance of this happening in a given year, is only one in one-thousand.

These images released by the NASA Earth Observatory show the impact of nearly one-and-a-half inches of water.

The dark blue region shows flooding, and the light blue area shows saturated ground. That flooding has made some roads near death valley national park impassible

The hottest place on earth is currently closed to traffic, and it's not due to the sweltering heat, but flood water.

Matthew Lamar, Park Ranger with Death Valley National Park says, "It was a historic event. You know, living in Death Valley, working in Death Valley, we always get excited whenever it rains. But, the morning of that Friday, it became apparent that this was not your average rain, quickly, you were seeing water coalescing the canyon, start to flow towards the roads."

On August 5th, in just three hours, flash- floods soaked Furnace Creek in Death Valley. 

That day Death Valley saw almost as much rain as it usually sees all year. 

In total 1.46 six inches of rain fell, nearly breaking the single-day record of 1.47 inches back on April 15, 1988. 

"It's important to understand that just because we've had this event, it doesn't mean we've met our quota and we're good for a thousand years," said Lamar. 

The deluge did, however,  break the record for the most rainfall in the month of August.

These false-color images from were released from the NASA earth observatory Wednesday, via their Terra and Aqua satellites, showing just how significant the flooding was.

They compared a photo taken on July 11th with another taken on August 5th, the day of the major rain event. 

 Park Ranger Lamar says, "It's one of the highest 24-hour periods of rainfall ever recorded in Death Valley, and it's something that we are still assessing".

Cars sunk in the mud, debris was scattered across the National Park, and some roads were also damaged. 

Now, due to the muddy mess, Highway 190 is closed-off in some parts. Because of the dangerous roads leading up to Death Valley National Park, Park Ranger Matthew Lamar is warning drivers against fully trusting navigation from their GPS.

"We've had multiple vehicles that have been led us straight by their GPS, and have gotten stuck down the back country. 

Caltrans tells us the California Hwy-190 that runs through the park is open to the Western portion, but is closed from the Trona-Wildrose junction.

The partial opening allows access to Panamint Springs Resort, Father Crowley Overlook, and Lee Flat.

Additional areas won't be re-opening until August 19th as crews work to repair roads and clear debris.