Hilary Brought Record Rainfall to Death Valley

Desert, mountain towns are digging out from the mud
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 22, 2023 7:52 PM CDT
After Hilary, Towns Dig Out of the Mud
Firefighters use a skip loader to rescue a person from an assisted living center after the street was flooded with mud Monday, Aug. 21, 2023, in Cathedral City, California.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Crews in mountain and desert towns worked to clear away mud and debris Tuesday in the aftermath of the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years. The system was dissipating as it moved over the Rocky Mountains. Hilary shattered daily rain records in San Diego and dumped the equivalent of a full year's worth on Death Valley National Park, forcing the park to be closed indefinitely and leaving about 400 people sheltering until roads could be made passable, park officials said. The storm dumped a record 2.2 inches on the area. As Hilary moved northeast into the neighboring state of Nevada, flooding was reported, power was out, and a boil-water order was issued for about 400 households in the Mount Charleston area west of Las Vegas, where the only road in and out was washed out, the AP reports.

Hilary first slammed into Mexico's arid Baja California Peninsula as a hurricane, causing one death and widespread flooding before becoming a tropical storm . So far no deaths, serious injuries or extreme damages have been reported in California, though officials in San Bernardino said Tuesday they were still searching for one missing person in a rural mountain community. In one dramatic scene, rescue officials in the desert community of Cathedral City, near Palm Springs, drove a skip loader through mud to a swamped care home and rescued 14 residents by scooping them up and carrying them to safety, Fire Chief Michael Contreras said.

It was one of 46 rescues the city performed between late Sunday night and the next afternoon from mud and water standing up to 5 feet. Flooding and mudslides were reported across Southern California's inland desert and mountain areas and parts of Nevada. The annual Burning Man counterculture festival in the desert 110 miles north of Reno remains on schedule to begin on Saturday, but rain from the remnants of the tropic storm has disrupted the plans of thousands of participants who typically set their camps up early.

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Elsewhere, Tropical Storm Harold made landfall on the South Texas coast Tuesday. Some 22 consecutive days of 100-plus temperatures ended in the Brownsville area Tuesday when Harold brought some relief, weather service meteorologist Joshua Schroeder said. The storm also brought heavy rain—up to 6 inches in some areas—in a region that has been experiencing drought, Schroeder said. "A lot of this rainfall is actually beneficial, and as it moves inland, it will rain itself out," Schroeder said, per the AP. (More Hurricane Hilary stories.)

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