According to a news release, Death Valley National Park announced its closure this Friday due to significant flooding.
“All roads in and out of the park are currently closed and will remain closed until park staff can assess the situation,” the National Park Service said on Friday.
On Friday, the park had about 500 visitors and 500 employees, according to the agency. It was also noted that stranded visitors can leave if they wish. No injuries have been reported.
National Park Service public affairs officer Abby Vine told CNN Friday that many visitors to Death Valley National Park voluntarily left the site.
Despite the road being closed, Vine says that “no one is stopping” if visitors find a way out of the park.
In an area called The Inn, about 60 cars belonging to visitors and employees are buried under the rubble, a news release said.
Second rainiest day in Death Valley
The park received 1.5 inches of rain on Friday, the second wettest day since records began in 1911. But with the historical record the difference is just a decimal: 3.73, according to Pedram Javhe, a CNN meteorologist.
This represents about 70% of the average rainfall in Death Valley and over 1,300% of the average rainfall for August.
In 61 of the 111 years that records have been kept, annual rainfall in the region did not reach this Friday’s amount, Jaheri explained.
Jaheri said that in just one hour, about an inch of rain falls, on average, every 1,000 years.
Prior to this Friday, Death Valley had recorded only 0.1 cm of rain in 2022, the driest start during July since 1953, when it had not rained at all.
Vine noted that it is not known when the roads will reopen. According to the California Department of Transportation, the park remained closed Saturday after several roads were “severely damaged” by the storm.
“Drivers should not attempt to bypass any closures to access the park,” Caltrans warned in an update.
According to the update, Highway 190, which crosses the park from west to east, will be closed over the weekend while crews work to clear it.