Published Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 | 12:45 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 | 3:42 p.m.
A storm system that is settled over the region saturated Las Vegas with nearly a half an inch of rain on what is officially the wettest day so far in 2013.
And the precipitation isn't expected to clear out of the area until late this weekend.
As of 3 p.m., the National Weather Service's Las Vegas office said it had measured .45 inches of rain today at McCarran International Airport. That's well above the .36 inches recorded back on Jan. 26, the year's previous high, according to Chris Stachelski, an NWS meteorologist in Las Vegas.
Stachelski noted some areas of the valley have received higher one-day rainfalls earlier this year, but not McCarran, which is the NWS's official measuring station in the valley.
He said forecasters were a little surprised by how much it rained early this afternoon.
"We had one good rain cell early this afternoon right over McCarran," Stachelski said.
The rain has wreaked havoc on valley highways and surface streets. Metro Police spokesman Jose Hernandez said between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., 112 traffic accidents had been reported to Metro. As of 1 p.m., the Nevada Highway Patrol had responded to 36 car accidents caused by the slick roadways from rain, Trooper Loy Hixson said. That total is six more than NHP responds to in a 24-hour period on an average day.
Most of the incidents occurred between a vehicle and a fixed object on the 215 Beltway and the Spaghetti Bowl, Hixson said. He urged drivers to be cautious while navigating the slick roads.
“Slow down and give yourself extra time,” Hixson said. “We don’t get much rain throughout the valley, so when it does rain, we get dirt that’s been sitting there (brought) to the surface. … It’s just like walking across a wet floor.”
Stachelski said he didn't expect conditions to change until Saturday night.
“It’s going to rain off and on this afternoon and evening, and for the next few days we’ll continue to have a good chance of showers,” Stachelski said.
The forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of precipitation this afternoon, falling to 50 percent tonight and Friday. Stachelski said the chance of rain during the day Saturday will be 40 percent, before the precipitation clears out Saturday night and Sunday.
He said he expected some isolated areas could experience heavy rainfall at times, but most of the precipitation in the area would be of the light-to-moderate variety.
The storm system also is bringing cooler-than-normal high temperatures to the area. Today’s high for Las Vegas is forecast at 60 degrees; the normal high for this date is 66. Friday’s high is expected to be 55, with Saturday at a cool 54.
“The lows will be about average, around 47, but the daytime highs will be about 8 degrees below normal,” Stachelski said.
Meanwhile, a winter weather advisory is in place for Mount Charleston and the Spring Mountains.
Stachelski said elevations above 7,000 feet could expect 6 to 12 inches of snowfall by Saturday morning. (The Mount Charleston Lodge is at about 7,700 feet.) The heaviest snowfall, he said, would occur tonight and into Friday.