LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Death Valley often gets attention for being one of the hottest and driest places on Earth, a place where triple-digits bake the landscape during summer months. But a new record was set this week when remnants of Hurricane Hilary swept through the national park’s more than 5,000 square miles.
On Sunday, the park’s official rain gauge near Furnace Creek recorded 2.20 inches of rain, a rare enough event to set a record for the most rain in a single day. The rain total must still be verified but according to the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, the rain broke the previous all-time wettest day record of 1.70 inches which was set on Aug. 5, 2022.
For most places, 2.20 inches of rain is a common occurrence. Hawaii averages 63 inches a year, and Seattle, Washington averages 39 inches. It seems a measly 2 inches wouldn’t matter much but in a desert — it does. Those few inches of rain set a new record for the national park because it usually gets only a few inches of rain the entire year.
The raindrops evolved into floodwaters that turned into temporary rivers racing across the landscape with force. Roads were destroyed, the park closed, and 400 people sheltered in place for safety.
“The unprecedented rain came in two bursts, with about an inch of rain Sunday morning and another inch of rain Sunday night,” according to a post on social media from the National Park Service in Death Valley.
Death Valley National Park remains closed as crews clean up the flooded roadways and work to repair roads. The National Park Service said it is not known when the first sections of the park will reopen.