- BBC News World
A very unusual event happened in the desert Valley of Death.
The rainfall in recent days was so intense in this national park located in the states of California and Nevada (USA) that it caused a great flood and about a thousand people were stranded, half of them visitors and the other half workers.
But what was striking was the amount of water that fell over the weekend in Furnace Creek, where Death Valley headquarters is located, within three hours: 37.1 millimeters. That’s roughly equivalent to an average year’s worth of rain here, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
“The heavy rain that caused the devastating floods in Death Valley was an extremely rare event, occurring once every 1,000 years,” said Daniel Berc, a meteorologist with the US National Weather Service.
The specialist clarified that it is not that it happens exactly every 1,000 years, but that “there is a 0.1% probability of it happening in any year.”
The weather disaster caused widespread damage in Death Valley and the closure of all internal roads. Additionally, about 60 cars were stranded, the NPS reported.
“Death Valley is an incredible place of extremes,” Park Superintendent Mike Reynolds said in a note published by the NPS.
“It is the hottest place in the world and the driest place in North America.. This week’s 1,000-year flood is another example of this extreme environment. With climate change models predicting more frequent and intense storms, this is one place where you can see climate change in action!” he added.
Death Valley in the Mojave Desert is at its deepest point 86 meters below sea level and has recorded maximum temperatures of 56.7 ºC. That mark was achieved on July 10, 1913 and was never surpassed in the world.
This valley was inhabited for at least 1,000 years by the Timbisha tribe.
Its name was given by the adventurers who dared to cross it at the beginning of the 19th century, attracted by the gold rush.
In 1994 it was declared a national park – it is the largest in the country after Alaska – and each year more than a million people visit it.
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