Caltrans Continues to Assess Damage from Tuesday’s Storm
State Route 190 Remains Closed from Olancha to Stovepipe Wells
INYO COUNTY ― State Route (SR) 190 in Inyo County sustained significant road damage from the storm that took place Tuesday, September 13, which was the latest in a string of high-intensity weather events that have impacted the county since late July. The most recent damage occurred on SR 190 between Olancha and Panamint Valley Road where large amounts of soil supporting the road system were washed away by fast-moving flood waters.
John Adair, National Weather Service (NWS) Las Vegas Senior meteorologist provided a radar-estimated rainfall count of between 1.25 to 2 inches of rainfall during Tuesday’s 3 to 5 pm weather event. The annual normal precipitation total at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, where records have been kept since the early 1900s, is 2.2 inches, with the highest amounts of precipitation typically occurring during the winter months. Seven significant thunderstorm and flash flooding events since late July impacted SR 190 in and around Death Valley National Park. Each storm averaged one or more inches of rain in a short period of time, leading to flash flooding.
The damage from Tuesday’s storm ranges from minimal to devastating. At Upper Centennial, 5 miles east of the junction of SR 136/SR 190, several hundred feet of pavement and shoulder washed away, leaving behind gullies up to 15 feet deep. This undercutting is prominent in several additional sections of SR 190 from Lower Centennial to Saline Valley Road. To accommodate the repair and rebuilding efforts, Caltrans is keeping its current closure in place. The closure is set at the west end at two junctions, US 395/SR 190 in Olancha, and US 395/SR 136 in Lone Pine. The closure continues east to Stovepipe Wells.
Ryan Dermody, Caltrans District 9 Director urges, “It is vital for the public to understand how serious the situation is on all roads within the closure. Caltrans crews are in the process of assessing the entirety of SR 190 and SR 136, recognizing that there is likely more damage. Please respect that the closures are there to keep everyone safe.”
“Death Valley National Park has been hammered by storm after storm for the past seven weeks,” said Mike Reynolds, Superintendent of Death Valley National Park. “This is totally unprecedented. Caltrans, NPS, and Inyo County road crews have been clearing and re-clearing roads. Thank you for your patience while we work together to get the roads around Death Valley NP safe for park visitors to drive on.”
Please follow Caltrans District 9 on Twitter (@Caltrans9) and Facebook (Caltrans9) for updates on these road closures. Highway information can also be found at the Caltrans QuickMap site at quickmap.dot.ca.gov or download the app to your smartphone. You can also call the Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).
For those with sensory disabilities requiring alternate formats (i.e. Braille, large print, sign language interpreter, etc.) and those needing information in a language other than English, please contact Bob Gossman at (760) 881-7145 or TTY 711.