Las Vegas Sun

May 12, 2021

Currently: 80° — Complete forecast


Snow, a rare visitor, lingers in Las Vegas

Weather causes tourists to adjust plans, students enjoy snow day


Justin M. Bowen

A snowman was left standing Thursday afternoon at the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign on the Las Vegas Strip. Most of the snow along the Strip had melted as temperatures climbed into the 40s a day after snow blanketed the valley.

Updated Thursday, Dec. 18, 2008 | 5:53 p.m.

Snow On The Strip

Visitors and workers on the Las Vegas Strip experience snow throughout the day.

Snow Delays At Airport

Heavy snow caused numerous delays at McCarran International Airport.

After the snow

Ed Owens, left on grader, cleared the way to Anthem. Also on the machine is Clint Hall. At bottom, from left, are fellow city workers Darwin Barton, Ryan Minehan, Kurt Launch slideshow »


Snow collects on trees at the Luxor on the Las Vegas Strip on Wednesday. Launch slideshow »

Share your photos

Snow Day

Heavy snow came to the Spring Mountains and the Red Rock Canyon area of the Las Vegas Valley.

Snow in Las Vegas

Alexis Winston, 5, and Ryan Cuevas build a snowman on the side of the road near Red Rock Canyon on Monday. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas was digging out Thursday from one of the biggest snows in its history — anywhere from 3 to 8 inches fell throughout the valley Wednesday through early this morning.

The rare, heavy snow led to delayed flights at McCarran International Airport and traffic problems and accidents throughout the valley Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. However, flights resumed this morning at McCarran. And snow-covered streets, parking lots, sidewalks and highways were melting off by late afternoon under mostly sunny skies and temperatures hitting 40 degrees.

Throughout the day, students in Las Vegas were taking advantage of the first local school snow day since 1979, by sledding, having snowball fights and making snow sculptures from the wet, sticky white stuff before it melted off.

While the snow was leaving town, cold weather is sticking around. The National Weather Service's forecast Thursday night called for sub-freezing temperatures, dipping down to the high 20s, with a west-southwest wind around 6 mph. More storms — without as much precipitation — were moving in Friday through Tuesday.

Surprised tourists

A couple of European tourist who were sipping coffee at the Starbucks on Las Vegas Boulevard and Windmill Road said the snow storm caught them by surprise. Marten and Phillip Opermatt said they arrived earlier in the week from Switzerland.

“We actually came here to get away from the snow,” Marten Opermatt said.

A few plans had to be changed around, she said. Rather than visiting Red Rock Canyon for a hike, she said they would instead be heading to San Diego.

“Hopefully it will be warmer there,” she said.

A tourist hailing from San Diego, Steve Hooyman, said he didn’t come to Vegas prepared for cold weather.

“All I brought were shorts and T-shirts,” Hooyman said.

Students get lesson in Snow 101

Spread out all over Silverado Ranch Park, roughly 20 students from Liberty High School enjoyed their class-free day by throwing, dodging and getting smacked with snowballs.

“I already got blasted and trampled,” said Haley Duffy, a ninth-grader at Liberty. Duffy said she had already had a great time playing in the snow after school Wednesday.

“We made snow cones with some snow and strawberry syrup,” she said. Fellow freshman Taeler Rambo said she had also had a great time during the snow storm.

“I’ve never been snowed on. It was pretty sweet,” she said.

Kris Beaird, a freshman who was also at the park to have some fun throwing snow, said she spent the evening doing something she had never done before.

“I had to shovel snow so my mom could get in the garage,” she said.

As for having one more final day of school tomorrow before going on winter break, student Megan Patras, a freshman, said she didn’t expect too many people to show up.

Her friend Rachel Evans said she figured the ones who did come to school would just be all excited and not get too much done.

Giggling, 6-year-old Jazlyn Cadiente ran through the snow at Silverado Ranch Park.

“We’re going to play a snowball fight!” she shouted with a smile as her dad, Gerry, let some snow fly her way.

Gerry Cadiente said he and his daughter, who is on track break from school at John R. Hummel Elementary, spent the whole day yesterday playing in the snow and were out for some more.

Summerlin students mixed about snow day

Much of the snow was melting around Summerlin Thursday as thousands of students were enjoying an unexpected day off.

Tyler Marsh, a third-grader at William Lummis Elementary School, was inside the Summerlin Library picking out books to read and said he was excited about the time away from the classroom.

“It’s really fun,” the 8-year-old said. “When I heard about it on TV I was screaming and jumping up and down.”

Nine-year-old Julia Weaver, a student at Edith Garehime Elementary School, said she heard about the snow day on TV and the school also called her house.

“I was half happy and half sad,” Julia said. “There was supposed to be a 'Secret Santa' party at school today.”

Power restored

NV Energy reported this morning that power was back up this morning as of 3 a.m. for the 8,000 customers that were affected by outages Wednesday night.

“It was a variety of factors but it was all storm related,” NV Energy spokesperson Chelsie Campbell said of the outages.

NV Energy reported power outages Wednesday evening along Desert Inn Road, near Maryland Parkway, Mohave Avenue, Pecos Road, Eastern Avenue, Boulder Highway and Seneca Street; Rancho Drive and Valley View Boulevard, Rancho Drive and Washington Avenue; Lake Mead Parkway and Martin Luther King Boulevard; and Washington Avenue and Martin Luther King Blvd.

Police were directing traffic along Maryland Parkway to Pecos Road due to stoplight outages.

Campbell said there were no serious emergencies reported from customers during the outages Wednesday.

NV Energy has not reported any outages this morning.

Roads still clogged

Interstate 15 was reopened south of Las Vegas in each direction between Primm and Baker, Calif.

The I-15 southbound lanes were closed this morning at St. Rose Parkway because of a truck accident and diesel spill at mile post 27, said Robert McKenzie, a Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman.

U.S. Highway 95 reopened at Railroad Pass to Nevada State Route 163. State routes 161, 164 and 165 are closed to traffic.

U.S. Highway 93's north and south lanes to Boulder City are also open again. State Routes 160 and 159 are open to traffic with no controls, McKenzie said.

McKenzie said chains, snow tires or four-wheel drive vehicle restrictions are in place for State Route 156 to Mount Charleston. State Route 157 to Mount Charleston is open only to residents until further notice, he said.

The Henderson Police Department reported 16 storm-related accidents, all of them minor, spokesman Keith Paul said.

During the brunt of the storm Wednesday night, Las Vegas Metro Police reported on its Web site that it was following up on 26 traffic incidents, including four injury accidents, a hit-and-run, minor accidents and numerous traffic problems caused by slick and snowy conditions. From 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Metro had worked seven traffic accidents, including one hit-and-run. All of those accidents occurred before 8:30 a.m.

Snow shovels in high demand

Around Henderson, people flocked to home improvement stores to pick up snow shovels from stores that carried them and viable substitutes from the ones that didn’t.

The Home Depot on Sunset Road and Marks Street carries snow shovels, though when asked if she ever thought the store would actually sell any, a customer service representative chuckled and said no.

Customers began making a run on the shovels Wednesday night and by Thursday morning there were only two left, the associate said. A native New Yorker, she said it was funny to watch the way people reacted to the snow.

“They told me when I walked in last night (about the shovel sales) and I was just laughing,” she said. “People get a little snow here and they don’t know what to do with it.”

At the Lowe’s at Eastern Avenue and St. Rose Parkway, residents of the hard-hit nearby areas of Seven Hills and Sun City Anthem who came in for snow shovels had to make due with other equipment.

A store employee said that location carries large shovels that could be used for snow as well as push brooms, and both items were in high demand on Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

Forecast and snow reports

Another storm system will bring gusty winds into the area Friday and into Saturday but won't produce as much precipitation as the current storm, forecasters said.

And still another storm will arrive in the area on Monday or Tuesday, bringing another chance of precipitation and gusty winds.

Waiting in traffic

For some, the commute home through the snow wasn't bad, just a bit treacherous and slick. But many drivers found themselves stuck in traffic for an hour or more. Jerry Jackson has a better snow story — he spent Wednesday night angrily waiting in traffic at Railroad Pass in Boulder City for four hours.

Jackson said he and his wife Patsy left a medical clinic on West Charleston Boulevard in Las Vegas at 4:15 p.m.

The two didn’t make it home to Boulder City until 11:30 p.m., and had to call for paramedic help while stuck in traffic to get refrigeration for medicine.

“You should give people an escape route, not just make them sit there,” Jerry Jackson said. Jackson said the traffic finally began moving when he’d considered giving up and staying at Railroad Pass for the night.

Snow reports show widespread accumulations

Here is a summary of the weather service's snow reports from Clark County for Wednesday during the heaviest part of the snow:

• 5:15 p.m., a weather service employee reported 0.1 inch of snow was sticking on the Strip on unpaved surfaces by the Circus Circus Casino.

• 5:15 p.m., 5 inches of snow was measured by a weather service employee near Wagon Wheel and U.S. Highway 95 about five miles west northwest of Boulder City.

• 5:30 p.m., around an inch of snow was sticking on the grass by the MGM Grand as well as on nonpaved surfaces by the Luxor, according to a weather service employee.

• 5:30 p.m., 11 inches of snow was measured at Mount Charleston by a co-op weather observer.

• 6:23 p.m., 3 inches of snow was measured in Henderson by the wife of a weather service employee.

• 6:40 p.m., 4 inches of snow was measured by a weather service employee in south Las Vegas.

• 8:34 p.m., 2.5 inches of snow was measured by a trained spotter near the Boulder Station Casino.

• 8:40 p.m., between 3 and 5 inches of snow was measured in Henderson near Heather and College by a spotter. The spotter also reported several separate vehicles crashed into walls along Interstate 215.

• 8:54 p.m., 7 inches of snow was measured in a residential neighborhood of Henderson near Black Mountain, around 2,700 feet in elevation.

• 8:58 p.m., 1.6 inches of snow was measured by a spotter near Desert Inn and Hollywood.

• 9:08 p.m., 8 inches of snow was measured in the far southeast part of Henderson by a weather service employee near Wagon Wheel and U.S. 95.

• 9:50 p.m., 3.6 inches of snow had fallen at the weather service office in Las Vegas on Dean Martin Road.

• 10 p.m., 6 inches was recorded by a trained weather spotter three miles south-southeast of Henderson.

• 10:30 p.m., 1.7 inches of snow was measured on the Strip at the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada" Sign.

Storm hits weather record book jackpot

The National Weather Service described Wednesday's wintery weather as a jackpot in setting records in the Las Vegas Valley.

An all-time record for snow in December fell in Las Vegas with 3.6 inches recorded at the weather service office about two miles southwest of McCarran International Airport, where official weather records have been kept.

Measurable snow has only fallen on four instances since 1937 when official weather records began in Las Vegas: 2 inches on Dec. 15, 1967; 0.4 of an inch on Dec. 5, 1972; 1.0 inch on Dec. 6, 1998; and 1.3 inches on Dec. 30, 2003.

Wednesday's storm also ranks as the eighth greatest snowfall ever in Las Vegas for any month.

Wednesday's record set a new daily recorded snowfall for Dec. 17. The old snow record of a trace was recorded in 1992.

The 3.6 inches of snow that fell Wednesday was the most snow to fall in Las Vegas in a single storm since 7.8 inches of snow blanketed Las Vegas from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2 in 1979.

December 2008 will rank as the sixth snowiest month ever in Las Vegas since 1937 official records began. The snowiest month ever was back in January 1949 when 16.7 inches fell.

With 0.73 of an inch of liquid measured at McCarran International Airport, the total broke an old record of 0.44 of an inch on Dec. 17, 1940.

The month's total precipitation of 1.02 inches so far makes it the ninth wettest December on record.

A high temperature of 39 degrees broke the previous low maximum temp of 43 degrees set in 1967.

— The following Sun and Home News staff members contributed to this report: Ashley Livingston, Jean Norman, Amanda Finnegan, Mary Manning, Cara McCoy, Jeff O'Brien, Jeremy Twitchell, Steve Green and Dave Toplikar.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy