DEATH VALLEY - At the tail end of a week-long heat wave, with temperatures in triple digits in several cities across Southern California, tourists are flocking to…Death Valley.
The thermometer outside Death Valley National Park’s Furnace Creek Visitor Center hit a scorching 131 degrees Wednesday, a sight immortalized on Instagram by tourists who braved the unrelenting heat.
National Park spokeswoman Abby Wines told KNX1070 NEWSRADIO that ground temperatures are even hotter – 200 degrees.
“When you consider that 160 degrees is adequate to cook meat, it’s easy to see how somebody gets burned easily,” Wines said.
And that did happen – a woman sustained third-degree burns on her feet after walking a half mile on the desert sand barefoot, after losing her sandals.
The astonishing temperatures have tourists eager to document their visits to the park, which includes the Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America.
Wines said that visitors seem to be taking the necessary precautions in the extreme heat. However, it’s when the temperatures are a little cooler – say, just 110 to 115 degrees – that people make more careless, life-threatening mistakes.
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Death Valley National Park typically sees an average of three days a year of 125 degrees or higher, and Wines said that they just saw three of those days and it’s only June.
“No one ever gets used to this,” Wines said, with a laugh. “I’m not looking forward to the rest of the summer.”
Rangers say park visitors should not exceed 15 minutes at a time outside their air conditioned vehicles.
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