Home » The incredible temporary lake of Death Valley, an unexpected phenomenon in the driest place in the United States

The incredible temporary lake of Death Valley, an unexpected phenomenon in the driest place in the United States

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The incredible temporary lake of Death Valley, an unexpected phenomenon in the driest place in the United States

Exceptional Weather Events Bring Life to One of the Driest Places, with a Vast Temporary Lake that Surprises Visitors

Death Valley National Park in California has captured the public’s attention after the formation of a temporary lake in the Badwater Basin, a basin that is normally a saline desert and that is 86 meters below ground level from sea. This unusual phenomenon has attracted tourists, kayakers, and nature lovers, who have not hesitated to explore the unexpected waters of one of the driest places in the United States.

The formation of this lake is due to the record rains and floods that have hit eastern California since August, turning this region, known for its lack of precipitation, into a water mirage that extends approximately 6 miles long and 4.8 kilometers wide, with a depth of about 30 centimeters in mid-February.

“Most of us thought the lake would be gone by October,” Abby Wines, a park caretaker, told CBS News, highlighting the surprise of seeing it persist almost six months later.

Park officials attribute this weather event to the remnants of Hurricane Hilary on August 20, 2023, followed by a weather event known as an atmospheric river in early February, which replenished the lake’s waters. Over the past six months, the valley floor has received 124.46 millimeters of rain, more than double the annual average of 50.8 millimeters, according to park officials.

In addition to unusual tourist interest, the temporary lake has provided beautiful reflections on the surrounding peaks, captured in images that show the transformation of Death Valley’s arid landscape. “We hope that the shallow lake will create beautiful reflections until April,” indicated the park administration.

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Death Valley is known for its extreme weather conditions, having recorded the world‘s highest official temperature, 56.7 degrees Celsius, on July 10, 1913. Although the park experienced temperatures above 52 degrees Celsius last summer, just before Hilary’s arrival, visitors can currently expect more moderate temperatures.

This phenomenon highlights the vulnerability of arid regions to extreme events caused by climate change. The Badwater Basin is endorheic, meaning it does not drain to the sea, and water typically evaporates faster than it can flow into the basin. The current situation challenges this pattern, allowing water to continue filling the basin faster than it can evaporate.

NASA satellite images have documented the formation and evolution of the lake, contrasting the desert basin in July before the floods, with its much wetter state after major storms in August and then in February.

This unique event has attracted attention not only for its beauty and rarity, but also for reminding us of the unpredictability of natural events and their ability to radically transform landscapes. Meanwhile, Death Valley continues to welcome visitors attracted by the possibility of sailing in waters where, under normal circumstances, they would walk on a dry bed of salt.

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