Did it Just Snow at the Hottest Place on Earth––Death Valley, CA?

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Snow in Death Valley, CA? Credit: M. Gage / NPS

Is that snow at the hottest place on earth––Death Valley, CA?

Nope, it’s saltA recent rainfall caused some of the hills at Death Valley National Park to sprout salt flowers.

According to rangers at the park, this phenomenon is caused when rain soaks into the soil dissolving the salts present beneath the surface. When this rain evaporates, it pulls the dissolved salts to the surface through capillary action leaving a fresh salty crust behind. Over time, this white coating can erode away but comes back brilliantly white after additional rains.

Death Valley, California. Photo: NPS

According to Wikipedia, Death Valley is a desert valley in Eastern California, in the northern Mojave Desert, bordering the Great Basin Desert. It is one of the hottest places on Earth during summer, along with deserts in the Middle East and the Sahara.

Death Valley’s Badwater Basin is the lowest elevation in North America, at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. It is 84.6 miles (136.2 km) east-southeast of Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous United States, at 14,505 feet (4,421 m). On the afternoon of July 10, 1913, the United States Weather Bureau recorded a high temperature of 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, which stands as the highest ambient air temperature ever recorded at the surface of the Earth. This reading, however, and several others taken in that period, a century ago, are in dispute by some modern experts.

Lying mostly in Inyo County, California, near the border of California and Nevada, in the Great Basin, east of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Death Valley constitutes much of Death Valley National Park and is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve. It runs from north to south between the Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west; the Grapevine Mountains and the Owlshead Mountains form its northern and southern boundaries. It has an area of about 3,000 sq mi (7,800 km2). The highest point in Death Valley National Park is Telescope Peak, in the Panamint Range, with an elevation of 11,043 feet (3,366 m).

Death Valley
Death Valley National Park, CA

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