Turn around, don’t drown! Insane storm strands motorists in flash flooding and mud flows in Joshua Tree, California


A storm that surprised everyone with its intensity and duration brought havoc to the Morongo Basin Friday night and Saturday. Thunder, lightning, rain, and hail started about 10:30 p.m. Friday and by 11:15, first responders started getting calls asking for help. County Fire Battalion Chief Scott Tuttle said firefighters received 13 water-related calls: from motorists who were stranded in flash flooding and mud flows on the highway; residents whose houses were being inundated with water; and concerning washed out roads.

STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT. Alita Van Vliet photo
mudflow joshua tree, mudflow buries cars joshua tree, STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT
STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT. CHP photo

One of the first calls for help was at 11:30 p.m. Friday at Hillview and Highway 62 in Joshua Tree for a red Volkswagen Beetle that had become trapped in the mud flow, with mud up to the car’s windows. A Morongo Basin Ambulance sent out on a water rescue also got stuck. Tuttle said all the occupants from all the stranded vehicles managed to get out safely.

mudflow joshua tree, mudflow buries cars joshua tree, STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT
STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT. Alita Van Vliet photo

Highway 62 was covered with mud and debris up to four to five deep near Hallee Road. The California Highway Patrol shut down Highway 62 in Joshua Tree about midnight due to the flash flooding, and the highway remained closed well into Saturday as Caltrans brought in a skip loader to move the mud off the highway. Traffic was diverted onto Aberdeen.

mudflow joshua tree, mudflow buries cars joshua tree, STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT
STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT. Alita Van Vliet photo

The Twentynine Palms High School football team, returning from its victorious game against Desert Mirage High School, spent the night at Denny’s Restaurant before moving to the Yucca Valley High School multi-purpose room for breakfast.

mudflow joshua tree, mudflow buries cars joshua tree, STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT
STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT. Alita Van Vliet photo
mudflow joshua tree, mudflow buries cars joshua tree, STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT
STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT. Alita Van Vliet photo

More than 2,300 customers of Southern California Edison were without power Friday night and Saturday due to the storm, and some residents were without water.

mudflow joshua tree, mudflow buries cars joshua tree, STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT
STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT. CHP photo
mudflow joshua tree, mudflow buries cars joshua tree, STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT
STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT. Alita Van Vliet photo

Tuttle reminded residents to “turn around, don’t drown.” Don’t attempt to drive through flowing water, as there’s no way to know if the road may have been washed out, or drive through mud and debris flows.

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More pictures here: KCDZ 107.7FM – STORM CAUSES FLASH FLOODING, CLOSES HIGHWAY 62 IN JOSHUA TREE OVERNIGHT



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