Courtesy of James Hebert
Monday, Feb. 18, 2019 | 11:16 a.m.
It was 57 degrees and partly cloudy on Sunday afternoon, typical weather for the Las Vegas Valley in February.
But by nighttime, the temperature dropped into the high 20s. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for the area. As early as 8 p.m., it started to snow in some parts of the valley and continued until about 2 a.m. Monday.
The northwest and southwest valley, specifically Summerlin, Mountain’s Edge and Southern Highlands, saw the most snow, with one-and-a-half inches reported in West Summerlin, said meteorologist Chris Outler from the National Weather Service. By 11:30 p.m. Sunday, measurable snow reached McCarran International Airport for the first time in over a decade, and flurries were spotted on the Strip and downtown as well.
The Nevada Highway Patrol closed I-15 in both directions from St. Rose Parkway in south Las Vegas to the California state line due to snowy and icy conditions and following at least 10 crashes, said NHP trooper Travis Smaka. Smaka was unaware of the details of the crashes.
St. Rose Parkway eastbound toward Las Vegas Boulevard was also blocked off due to a crash that sent two individuals to the hospital and remained closed as of 10:45 a.m. Monday. The roads to Mount Charleston are open, but NHP recommends drivers heading that way bring snow tires and chains.
A combination of factors led to dangerous driving conditions early this morning, Smaka said.
“It was kind of a perfect storm,” he said. “You had a big snowstorm, and cold, icy conditions along with it, mixed in with the holiday weekend and the volume of visitor traffic.”
Temperatures rose above freezing later this morning, prompting the weather service to lift its weather advisory and I-15 to reopen at approximately 9:45 a.m.
Last night’s snowfall was the first time that snow stuck to the ground in the city limits since Dec. 17, 2008, when three-and-a-half inches were reported in the city. It was also the second snow event in the valley this month, as traces of snow were reported Feb. 10 at McCarran Airport and an inch or two fell farther out from the city.
Las Vegas wasn’t the only area to recently experience snow for the first time in years. Snow made a rare appearance on the summits of Maunakea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii on Friday.
Those who missed the rare snow event will have another chance to see flurries this week, Outler said. About the same amount of snow is expected to fall Wednesday night and Thursday morning.