A "Sometimes Lake" has Emerged in the Driest Place on Earth.

Written by Meteorologist Mary Wasson

Last updated 2/27/2024, 12:05:35 AM

This year has already boasted some memorable weather events in the United States and now people are flocking to Death Valley National Park to see a rare lake that has emerged after 19 years! 

Death Valley National Park is the driest place in North America, typically receiving about 2 inches of rain annually. However, the official weather gauge at Furnace Creek has measured almost 5 inches of rain in the past six months, with most of that happening during two events; the remnants of Hurricane Hilary in August and the mid-February atmospheric river. 

Most Death Valley visitors will remember a vast salt flat at Badwater Basin but heavy rain in August filled the valley floor with a shallow lake, 7 miles long, 4 miles wide, and about two feet deep.

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level and is situated among high, steep mountain ranges. This is a favored spot to visit because of the white salt flats set against the sandy-colored mountains. With the elevation so low, it’s not surprising that water has collected there since August. 

Park officials say they don’t know how long the water will stick around but believe it will be a tourist destination through April before beginning to dry out for the summer. 

Death Valley National Park is the largest park in the Lower 48 and is located along the border of California and Nevada. The bone-dry air and limited plant coverage allow sunlight to heat the rocks and soil, which then emits all that heat in return and it becomes trapped in the depths of the valley. This region holds the record for the hottest temperature recorded on earth, 134 degrees in July 1913.