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Death Valley’s recovery from Hilary delayed by new rain

Recent rainfall in Death Valley National Park has interrupted the park’s ongoing recovery from Tropical Storm Hilary, which destroyed roads last summer and left the park closed for months.

About 1.5 inches of rain fell on the park between Sunday and Wednesday during a series of atmospheric rivers that hit California this week, according to the National Park Service. Los Angeles saw nearly 500 mudslides during the storms, and many homes were damaged.

The park is currently rebuilding roads and attractions after Hilary dropped 2.2 inches of rain in a single day and broke a rainfall record. The park typically receives just 2 inches of rain in an entire year, the park service said.

California state Route 190, the main highway through the park, and Badwater Road were closed Wednesday morning after flash flooding on the roads Tuesday night. The park service said that by Wednesday afternoon, both roads had reopened after California Department of Transportation crews cleared debris.

Other roads in the park leading to attractions like Dantes View are still closed. For more information on road closures in the park, visit nps.gov/deva.

Temporary lakes still present

The park service said a temporary lake at Badwater Basin that formed during Hilary is still there months later due to the recent heavy rainfall.

The lake was about 7 miles long, 4 miles wide and 2 feet deep at its largest point, but it had begun to shrink in mid-January to half its size, park officials said.

“Most of us thought the lake would be gone by October,” park ranger Abby Wines said in a news release. “We were shocked to see it still here after almost six months. This week’s rain will extend how long the lake is here. It’s too shallow to kayak in, but it makes amazing reflections of the mountains.”

Park officials are expecting a “good bloom” for wildflowers in the spring thanks to the heavy rainfall this winter, but not a superbloom.

Contact Taylor Lane at tlane@reviewjournal.com.

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