A mention of Death Valley National Park doesn't conjure up images of snow-capped mountains for most of us, and even the first words you read on the park website—"Hottest, Driest, Lowest"—don't sound much like winter. That makes the park scene on January 3, 2011, a bit out of the ordinary.
According to a park spokesman, "although snow did not fall on the valley floor, Death Valley was surrounded by snow-covered mountains on January 3rd. The snow level was at 2,000 feet in the hottest, driest, and lowest region in the Western Hemisphere."
The lower elevations of Death Valley rarely get snow—only about once a decade on the valley floor—and that's usually just a dusting. In contrast, the neighboring community of Pahrump, about 60 miles away, had four to six inches of snow from the recent storm.
The National Weather Service forecast for Furnace Creek in the park for the remainder of this week calls for sunny to partly cloudy skies and highs in the upper 50s and low 60s, so all is not lost for those hoping to escape more chilling weather elsewhere in the west.