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Tropical Downpour Contributes to Fatality, Flash Flood Warning for Donnell Fire Area

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 05 September 2018



Two Reports

Tropical Downpour Contributes to Fatality

NWS Issues Flash Flood Warning for Donnell Fire Area


Inciweb, Donnell Fire

September 5, 2018

Flash Flood Warning
"Yesterday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for the Donnell Fire area. All personnel were notified of the incoming thunderstorm, and efforts were made to notify any public that may have been in the area. The fall rainy season is upon us, and severe mountain thunderstorms can develop quickly with little to no warning. The recent fire in conjunction with rainfall has the potential to produce landslides over the affected area."


The Bottom Line
The warning above relates the general outlines of the risks of flooding and avalances in fire-ravaged areas.
But, we've got to remember that lightening and unexpected intense weather are serious threats to hikers in the High Sierra at any time, during any season, as are the tropical downpours that often accompany Summertime tropical weather, weather that can turn itself into Summertime snowstorms across higher elevations.

The account below should draw our attention to the potential consequences of getting caught-out by unexpected adverse weather during the Summertime in the High Sierra, reminding us how those risks should always be under consideration, accounted for, and under constant observation.

We understand that changing weather can require on-the-trail changes in our hiking plans...





The Tropical Threat

Climbing Fatality in Kings Canyon National Park,
SEKI, July 16, 2018.


"On Thursday, July 12 at about four in the afternoon the parks received a satellite device SOS call from the John Muir Trail/Pacific Crest Trail near Center Peak in Kings Canyon National Park, just north of Forester Pass. A hiker reported someone calling for help about halfway up the peak on the northwest side, regarding a possible fall. The hiker was unable to make direct contact with this person due to terrain and monsoon-type weather."

"A park ranger responded on foot, and a helicopter was requested. Another park ranger was short-hauled in via helicopter and evacuated the 37 year old male who was uninjured, but unable to ascend or descend from his location. At about 6:30pm the park ranger confirmed the nearby partner, 30 year old male, was deceased. The next day a recovery operation was completed at 12,000 feet elevation and the body was transferred to the Tulare County Coroner’s Office."

"Search and rescue operations have kept park rangers busy this year, about twenty more than last year in mid-July.”

“When traveling in wilderness keep in mind that Monsoon-type weather systems can happen unexpectedly, and can bring potentially dangerous conditions including lightening, strong winds, and locally heavy rains that may impact water crossing levels and create footing on trails and rocks."


Also See
Eastern Thunderstorm Hits Sierra Nevada from Gulf of Mexico 



Center Peak on a Backpacking Map
Vidette Meadow to Tyndall Creek








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