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I have been in Death Valley National Park, in a tryp around California. Was in September and was really hot, around 120 farenhait or 48 Celsius, but I relly liked, because I've never been before in a desert.

Death Valley is the lowest, driest and hottest valley in the United States. It is the location of the lowest elevation in North America at 85.5 m (282 ft) below sea level. It holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere (134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek in 1913, as discussed below) - just short of the world's highest, which was 136 F (58 C) in El Aziza, Libya on Sept. 13, 1922. Located southeast of the Sierra Nevada range in the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert, it constitutes much of Death Valley National Park. It is mostly located in Inyo County, California.

It is mostly located in Inyo County, California. It runs north-south between the Amargosa Range to the east and the Panamint Range to the west; the Sylvania Mountains and the Owlshead Mountains form its northern and southern boundaries, respectively. It has an area of about 3,000 square miles (~7,800 km²).

Geologically, Death Valley is considered one of the best examples of the Basin and Range configuration. It lies at the southern end of a geological trough known as the Walker Lane which runs north into Oregon

The valley is bisected by a right lateral strike slip fault system, represented by the Death Valley Fault and the Furnace Creek Fault. The eastern end of the left lateral Garlock Fault intersects the Death Valley Fault. Located on the border of California and Nevada, Death Valley is the principal feature of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts Biosphere Reserve.

Death valley also contains salt pans. According to current geological consensus, during the middle of the Pleistocene era there was a succession of inland seas (collectively referred to as Lake Manly) located over where Death Valley is today, but as the area turned to desert the water evaporated, leaving behind the abundance of evaporitic salts such as common sodium salt and borax, which were subsequently exploited in the early portion of the modern history of the region . After the most prolific rainy seasons, a temporary lake has been known to form at Badwater; when this occurs, non-motorized watercraft are allowed by the National Park Service.

Temperatures in the Valley can range from up to 130 °F (54 °C) in the day in the summer, to below freezing at night in the winter. The lowest temperature on record at Furnace Creek Inn is 15 °F (-9 °C).

The National Climatic Center reports that temperatures at Furnace Creek reach 90 °F (32 °C) on an average of 189.3 days annually and 100 °F (38 °C) on an average of 138.0 days annually. Freezing temperatures occur on an average of 11.7 days each year.

Many of Death Valley's narrow, serpentine roads were built in the 1930s and cannot be driven on at high speed. Badwater, located within Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest point in North America. (Surprisingly, the highest point in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney, is just 76 miles (123 km) west of Death Valley). At 282 feet (86 m) below sea level, Death Valley shares most of the characteristics found in other places around the world that lie below sea level.

Generally, the lower the altitude of a place, the higher the temperatures tend to be. This is especially true in Death Valley, due to the mountains that encircle the valley. The valley radiates extreme amounts of heat, creating temperatures that are among the highest on earth. The hottest temperature ever recorded in the United States was 134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek (then known as Greenland Ranch), during a sandstorm (according to National Weather Service records), on July 10, 1913. The highest average high temperature in July is 117 °F (47 °C) with temperatures of 122 °F (50 °C) or higher being very common. Parts of the valley receive less than 2 in (50 mm) of rain annually. At Furnace Creek Inn, average annual precipitation is 2.33 inches and there are an average of 18.1 days annually with measurable precipitation. The greatest monthly precipitation was 2.59 inches in January 1995 and 1.47 inch of precipitation fell on April 15, 1988, the one-day record. The Amargosa River and Furnace Creek flow through the valley, disappearing into the sands of the valley floor.

Winter storms moving inland from the Pacific Ocean must pass over mountain ranges to continue east. As the clouds rise up they cool and the moisture condenses to fall as rain or snow on the western side of the ranges. By the time the clouds reach the mountain's east side they no longer have as much available moisture, creating a dry "rainshadow". Four major mountain ranges lie between Death Valley and the ocean, each one adding to an increasingly drier rainshadow effect.

The depth and shape of Death Valley influence its summer temperatures. The valley is a long, narrow basin 85.5 m (282 feet) below sea level, yet is walled by high, steep mountain ranges. The clear, dry air and sparse plant cover allow sunlight to heat the desert surface. Heat radiates back from the rocks and soil, then becomes trapped in the valley's depths. Summer nights provide little relief as overnight lows may only dip into the 30°C to 35°C (85°F to 95°F) range. Heated air rises, yet is trapped by the recycled back down to the valley floor. These pockets of descending air are only slightly cooler than the surrounding hot air. As they descend, they are compressed and heated even more by the low elevation air pressure. These moving masses of super heated air blow through the valley creating extreme high temperatures. The average evaporation rate in the bottom of Death Valley is 150 inches a year.

While Death Valley gets very little rain, it is prone to flooding during heavy rains because the soil is unable to absorb the bulk of the water. The runoff can produce dangerous flash floods. In August 2004, such flooding caused two deaths and shut down the national park.

The National Climatic Center reports that, on a few rare occasions, light snow has fallen on the valley floor. The most recent snow flurries at Furnace Creek Inn were on January 5, 1974.

During the late Pleistocene, the valley was inundated by prehistoric Lake Manly. The valley received its name in 1849 during the California Gold Rush by emigrants who sought to cross the valley on their way to the gold fields, though only one emigrant was recorded to have died during the Rush. During the 1850s, gold and silver were extracted in the valley. In the 1880s, borax was discovered and extracted by mule-drawn wagons.

September 2008

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