Death Valley National Park lives up to its reputation for having one of the most extreme climates in the world: the Southern California park is in the midst of one of its intense September, weeks after setting a record for its most extreme downpour, park officials announced Thursday.
Park rangers manually recorded 1.70 inches of precipitation on August 5, officially making it the wettest day in the infamously arid landscape’s history. Renowned for its hot, dry conditions, Death Valley averages just 0.11 inches of rain in August and 2.2 inches over an entire year.
Flash flood in Death Valley strands around 1,000 people in national park
The Aug. 5 flood washed out several roads, including the park’s main highway, Route 190. That highway has since reopened, but many other roads are still too badly damaged to allow cars to pass, with the carriageway entirely carried away by the turbulent waters that enveloped certain parts of the park.
Historic rainfall, triggered by this year’s unusually strong southwest monsoon, has also temporarily stranded around 1,000 people. Shops and hotel rooms were flooded, while cars were trapped in parking lots by floating trash cans or immobilized by debris flows.
The Death Valley flood also came amid major flooding that seemed to affect every corner of the country. From late July to mid-August, four 1 in 1,000 year rainfall events occurred – flooding St. Louis, eastern Kentucky, southeastern Illinois and Dallas. Earlier this summer, Yellowstone National Park also experienced devastating flooding.
From record rain to record heat
Although Death Valley park rangers aren’t done cleaning up the floods yet, Mother Nature has moved on.
On Thursday, temperatures in the park hit 124.4 degrees Fahrenheit, just 1.6 degrees below the highest September temperature on record anywhere in the world – 126 degrees Fahrenheit.
This record reading was measured in Mecca, California in September 1950, just over 300 miles south of Death Valley.
This weekend, Death Valley has a real shot at breaking some of its own heat records – if not the world high temperature record for September.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a high of 124 degrees on Friday, a number that would smash the previous September 2 record – 122 degrees – which was set in 2017. Saturday’s record is also a candidate for rewriting, with a forecast high of 123 degrees, two degrees higher than the previous record set in 2007.
The most extreme heat doesn’t arrive until Labor Day, however. Current NWS forecasts have temperatures in Death Valley reaching 125 degrees, making it more than possible that the temperature there will not only break the local record, but also manage to top the September world record.
Another 125-degree day is also slated for Tuesday, giving the park’s Furnace Creek station at least two serious chances next week to break the monthly record.
Death Valley already holds the record for the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth, as well as several runners-up. Officially, Death Valley reached 134 degrees on July 10, 1913. But this record has been questioned by several climatologists – as has the next highest temperature: 131 degrees measured in Kebili, Tunisia on July 7, 1931.
In 2020 and 2021, the temperature in Death Valley reached 130 degrees without controversy, making the two measurements the highest pair of reliably measured temperatures on Earth.
Death Valley soars to 130 degrees, matching Earth’s highest temperature in at least 90 years
. Death Valley known for its extreme does face of weeks heat intense after of rains record