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(WABNEWS) — Death Valley National Park announced its closure Friday due to significant flooding, according to a Press release.RELATED
“All roads into and out of the park are currently closed and will remain closed until park staff can assess the full extent of the situation,” the National Park Service said Friday.
There were approximately 500 visitors and 500 employees at the park on Friday, according to the agency. It was also noted that stranded visitors could leave if they wished. No injuries have been reported.
Abby Wines, public affairs officer for the National Park Service, told WABNEWS on Friday that several visitors to Death Valley National Park voluntarily left the site.
Despite road closures, Wines says “no one is stopping” visitors if they find a way out of the park.
In the area known as The Inn, approximately 60 cars belonging to visitors and staff are buried under the rubble, a news release said.
The second rainiest day in Death Valley
The park fell 1.5 inches of rain on Friday, making it the second wettest day since 1911 when records began. But the difference with the historical record is just decimals: 3.73, according to Pedram Javahe, a WABNEWS meteorologist.
This represents almost 70% of the average rainfall in Death Valley and more than 1,300% of the average rainfall for August.
In 61 of the 111 years that records have been kept, the annual rainfall in the area did not reach the amount of this Friday, Javaheri explained.
About an inch of rain fell in just one hour, something that happens on average every 1,000 years, Javaheri added.
Before this Friday, Death Valley had only recorded 0.1 centimeter of rain in 2022, the driest start during July since 1953, when it did not rain at all.
Wines noted that it is not known when the roads will reopen. The park remained closed Saturday because many roads were “severely damaged” by the storm, according to the California Department of Transportation.
“Drivers should not attempt to bypass any closure to access the park,” Caltrans warned in an update.
Highway 190, which crosses the park from west to east, will be closed over the weekend while crews work to clean it up, according to the update.