Published Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 | 6:57 a.m.
Updated Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 | 6:10 p.m.
Flood warnings in the area have prompted Clark County Manager Virginia Valentine to issue a declaration of emergency to deal with the threat of flooding in the area.
An emergency operations center has been set up at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas. The declaration means that there is a state of emergency because of weather conditions, officials said.
“With a declaration in place, we can call upon other public entities for assistance, including the state of Nevada and the federal government to get resources as quickly as possible,” Valentine said in a prepared statement.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a civil emergency message at the request of the Mesquite Police Department because of flooding in that city.
The message said voluntary evacuations due to flooding east of Sage Way are now occurring between East Mesquite Boulevard and East Old Mill Road in Mesquite. An evacuation center has been set up at Virgin Valley High School and sandbags are available at Hunter Park. Mesquite residents can call 702-346-5295, ext. 5101 for more information.
The power outage in Kyle Canyon – which is affecting around 500 customers -- is expected to last at least 72 more hours, according to NV Energy spokesman Mark Severts.
“This is the worst storm in the memory of our crews that they’ve ever had to battle,” Severts said.
Severts said that the Mount Charleston area has been so dangerous that NV Evergy crews are being pulled for the rest of the day and expect to return to work on the area at daylight.
He said heavy snowfall has been building up on trees and limbs, causing some trees to fall into powerlines and cabins.
“Those branches could break at any moment,” Severts said. “That needs to be their number one concern.”
Snow is also building up on the powerlines itself and causing them to fall, he said. There was also an active avalanche in the early afternoon.
So far there has been 3 feet of snow accumulated in the area and another 10 inches is expect overnight, Severts said.
NV Energy is discouraging people from going to play in the snow on Mount Charleston, and asking them to avoid any NV Energy crews doing work in the area.
Stacey Wellling, Clark County public information officer, said the county's Public Works may be gearing up to do 24-hour snow removal at Mount Charleston, which got 2 feet of snow between 6 p.m. Monday and 3:30 a.m. today. She said that there are also a lot of power lines down at Echo Canyon this morning. Public Works reports they are plowing Echo Subdivison now. They can't access a back road into the subdivision due to the down power lines, but they can access via other roads, she said.
Road closings today included Arroya Road going into the town of Blue Diamond, Bonnie Springs Road and Elbow Canyon Road, outslde of Bunkerville, which is a dirt road that was washed out, she said. No roads are closed in Moapa Valley, but Public Works is monitoring Cooper Crossing in case of flooding on the Muddy River, she said.
State Route 159 is closed at mile marker 13, said National Highway Patrol Trooper Chelita Rojas. Rojas said she isn’t sure when the route will reopen — that will depend on the weather and flooding in the area, she said.
Clark County Public Works is monitoring the Flamingo Wash area behind Imperial Palace, she said.
Metro Police confirmed road closures on State Route 157, Kyle Canyon Road; State Route 156, Lee Canyon Road, above the 12-mile markers on each. State Route 158, the road that connects Kyle Canyon Road and State Route 156, is completely closed to traffic.
Police said that residents driving four-wheel drive vehicles or tire chains will be allowed past emergency check points.
A very moist Pacific storm is expected to continue bringing wet weather and snow to the region through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Widespread valley rain and more snow can be expected, with locally heavy rain potentially causing flooding, the weather service said.
Heavy snow will fall in the Spring Mountains and Sheep Range in southern Nevada through Wednesday evening, but will leave to the east late Wednesday night, leaving dry conditions Thursday and Friday, forecasters said.
Flash flood watch
A flash flood watch continues through Wednesday afternoon for portions of northwest Arizona, California and southern Nevada, including the Las Vegas Valley and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the weather service said.
Rain is expected to become more scattered during the day today. However, more rain, locally heavy at times, is expected tonight and Wednesday, forecasters said.
The rain will cause ponding of water in low lying areas as well as rapidly flowing water in normally dry washes, they said. Flows of water and mud or debris might occur over area roads, they said. Travelers, campers and residents should be aware of the potential for flash flooding, they said.
Winter storm warning in mountains
The weather service has issued a winter storm warning for heavy snow and strong winds for areas above 7,000 feet in the the Sheep Range, the Spring Mountains, Red Rock Canyon and the town of Mount Charleston through 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Snowfall will be heavy at times today before tapering off some tonight, then increasing again late tonight and Wednesday evening, forecasters said.
Total accumulations of up to 4 feet of snow are possible at the 7,500-feet level, with 6 feet or more at the highest elevations through Wednesday evening, they said.
The latest 24-hour snow totals this morning include the Nevada Division of Forestry in Kyle Canyon, with 16 inches and the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort with 26 inches, forecasters said.
Winds will be from the west at 20 to 30 mph, with gusting.
Travel will be difficult or impossible at times on roads above 7,000 feet, including State Roads 156, 157 and 158 in Kyle and Lee Canyons, forecasters said.
Flood warning continues
A flood warning has been extended through Thursday evening for the Virgin River and Beaver Dam Wash in northeastern Clark and north central Mohave counties, forecasters said.
At 12:25 p.m., flooding was occurring on the Beaver Dam Wash at Beaver Dam, Ariz., and mandatory evacuations were in effect, the weather service said.
Stream flows similar to , if not higher than 2005 are occurring on the Virgin River from Littlefield to Lake Mead, forecasters said. One to 2 feet of water in extreme southeast Mesquite is occurring near East Mesquite Boulevard and Cottonwood, forecasters said. Flood mitigation activities are occurring around Mesquite, they said.
The Virgin River and Beaver Dam Wash will continue to flood through Thursday evening, they said.
A flood warning means that flooding is imminent or has been reported, forecasters said. They urged motors not to dirve vehicles into areas where the water covers the roadway.
The weather service has extended the flood advisory until 5 p.m. for west central Clark County in southern Nevada. Locations affected include Red Rock Canyon, Spring Mountain Ranch, Blue Diamond and Rocky Gap Campground.
At 1:44 p.m., radar continued to indicate light to moderate rain in and around the Red Rock Canyon area. Highway 159 and the Red Rock Scenic Loop Road remain closed, forecasters said. Flooding will continue to be a threat through 5 p.m., they said.
Christmas weather outlook
Forecasters said a weak ridge of high pressure will move over the region on Thursday, bringing drier conditions. However, that will be short lived.
Another weaker storm will move across the region over the Christmas weekend, bringing a chance of rain and snow once again north of Las Vegas. Dry conditions are expected by next Monday as that system shifts to the east.
Record rainfall recorded Monday
McCarran Internation Airport's daily rain total Monday was .4 of an inch, which broke the old Dec. 20 daily record of .25 of an inch set back in 1959.
So far, the yearly total for McCarran is 4.73 inches, which is .44 of an inch above normal. This makes 2010 the first year in Las Vegas since 2005 to record above normal precipitation for the year.
Here are precipitation totals as of 9 p.m. Monday at the weather service's recording stations throughout the valley:
Range Wash at Las Vegas Boulevard, .63 of an inch; Summerlin Northwest, .55; Lone Mountain, .51; Interstate 215 and Cheyenne, .47; Pittman Wash at Wigwam, .39; North Las Vegas - Craig and Decatur, .37; Aliante, .35; downtown Las Vegas, .35; Nellis Air Force Base, .27; southeast Henderson, .26; Henderson Executive Airport, .18.
Mount Charleston had significant rainfall by 9 p.m. Monday, including 10.8 inches at Rainbow Canyon, 8.28 inches at Kyle Canyon, 7.3 at Lee Canyon. Red Rock Canyon reported 3.08 inches by that time.
Temperatures to be in low 50s
At 5:56 a.m. today, the temperature at McCarran International Airport was 51 degrees. The normal low for today's date is 36 degrees. The record low was 20 degrees, set in 1990 and 1968.
Around the valley just before 2 p.m., temperatures were 50 degrees at North Las Vegas Airport, 52 degrees at Nellis Air Force Base and 51 degrees at Henderson Executive Airport.
The normal high at McCarran for today's date is 56 degrees and the record high was 68 degrees, set in 1950 and 1990.
Temperatures at McCarran are expected to be 51 degrees by 6 p.m., be 51 degrees at 9 p.m. and 50 degrees by midnight, forecasters said.
Wednesday's morning low will be 49 degrees and Wednesday's high will climb to 56 degrees, they said.