Recent torrential rainstorms in California have resulted in an extraordinary natural occurrence – the formation of a lake in the renowned Death Valley, specifically at Badwater Basin.
This phenomenon, uncommon in an area typically characterized by salt flats, emerged in August following heavy rains and flash floods caused by the remnants of Hurricane Hilary, as confirmed by park officials.
The atmospheric river events witnessed over the past fortnight, which brought substantial rainfall to various parts of California, are expected to prolong the existence of the lake, a statement from the Death Valley National Park indicated on Thursday.
Despite initial expectations that the lake would dissipate by October, the prolonged rain has defied those predictions. Park ranger Abby Wines expressed surprise at the lake’s persistence, stating that recent rain would further extend its presence. Although the lake’s depth is insufficient for kayaking, it offers striking reflections of the surrounding mountains.
Death Valley, normally receiving approximately 2 inches of rainfall annually, received nearly 5 inches in the last six months. This increase was primarily attributed to Hurricane Hilary and the subsequent atmospheric river event, which caused extensive damage to roads and infrastructure.
Hilary, an uncommon tropical storm in California, unleashed around 2.2 inches of rain in a single day. The resulting floods, while detrimental to the region, led to the creation of the lake, reaching dimensions of 7 miles in length, 4 miles in width, and two feet in depth.
The recent precipitation in Death Valley, measuring 1.66 inches, was reported by the National Weather Service in a 72-hour precipitation update early Wednesday.
Death Valley’s Badwater Basin, temporarily transformed into a lake, is considered a rare occurrence by the park service. The basin itself was once an inland lake called Lake Manly, which dried up thousands of years ago.
Despite its reputation for recording the highest temperature ever on Earth, with Furnace Creek reaching 134 degrees on July 10, 1913, recent temperatures in the region have ranged from the 50s to 60s. Normal highs at Furnace Creek typically reach 90 degrees in April, according to park records.