A flash flood warning was issued for Mineral County by the National Weather Service on Tuesday July 15, but the warning was too little, too late.
Six motorists were stranded on US Highway 359 near the Powell Canyon area on the highway after more than an inch of rain fell in the area in less than an hour. Five were able to make their way to solid ground to stay out of the way of the rushing water but one unfortunate motorist wasn’t as lucky when the minivan was hit broadside with a wall of mud. The van was spun around in the water and debris, but the occupant was able to get to safety with the help of other motorists.
Nevada Highway Patrol and the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office were on scene at the Powell Canyon/Jim Canyon area where the water was crossing and also on U.S. Highway 395 at the Lucky Boy turnoff where flash floods had reportedly taken out the Mud Springs road.
Members of Mineral County Search & Rescue were called out to assist the motorists via alternate routes around Whiskey Flats Ranch and to remove the minivan from the mud.
SAR Vice President Dennis Bunch was quoted as saying, “I am very proud of the response time I have with my people. Within minutes of the call, I had about ten volunteers ready to close the roads and to assist those in need.”
“Upon meeting with the minivan, we saw that the motorist was only visibly shaken and helped her in removing her vehicle from the mudslide. Every motorist was thankful for the services of all of those who came out to help including NHP, the Sheriff’s office and Hawthorne Volunteer Fire. State of Nevada DOT workers were on scene and were coming out to open the road before we had gotten everyone through the detour. As long as everyone came home safely, that is all that counts,” he said.
At press time, the road to Lee Vining, popular with tourists traveling to Yosemite and Bodie, was still being cleared. It is uncertain how well the canyon’s up Powell and Jim fared.