Rain falls from casino ceilings in Vegas as thunderstorms flood the desert

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LAS VEGAS (TBEN) — Intense summer thunderstorms that drenched parts of Las Vegas — pouring water from casino ceilings and pool onto the carpet of a stadium-sized sports betting area — were part of a broad regional monsoon pattern that could repeat through the weekend , a National Weather Service official said Friday.

“We’re getting right into the heart of the most active part,” said John Adair, an experienced meteorologist at the weather services office near Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas. “This is turning out to be a pretty active monsoon season, compared to the last five years or so. There are many more opportunities for thunderstorms.”

The annual weather pattern in recent weeks has led to a parade of storms in the US Southwest that has resulted in flooding in normally dry washes, rain measured in inches and rescue operations.

In this photo from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office, a woman clings to a stop sign after her car was swept away in Golden Valley, Arizona, on Monday, July 25, 2022.

Mohave County Sheriff’s Office via TBEN

In Arizona, a driver had to be rescued from a vehicle that got stuck in the water off Apache Junction. A youth protection team was leaving the red truck they were driving at Canyon de Chelly National Monument on the Navajo Nation when it got stuck in the mud and the water surged around it. The Mohave County Sheriff earlier this week rescued a woman clinging to a stop sign after her car was swept away.

While the rain is welcome in a region ravaged by drought, it is causing headaches for neighborhoods where wildfires have stripped the land of vegetation, which normally delays and partially absorbs flooding.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has granted a request to include in the state’s disaster declaration the effects of flooding and mudslides in certain counties affected by massive wildfires this year. .

In northern Arizona, residents of Flagstaff have become accustomed to constant alerts on cell phones and sirens in neighborhoods warning of impending flooding.

Bret Henneman estimates he has about 3,500 sandbags around his home just north of Flagstaff, where two wildfires burned this spring. His wife was babysitting and had the back door open two weeks ago when heavy rain fell and a few inches of rain and mud poured through the house.

They now cringe with every flood warning.

“We still need the rain and stuff and we really need the monsoons here,” says Henneman, who is staying with family while his house dries. “It’s just that wildfires have changed everything. So yeah, when it rains, we’re scared.”

“There’s not really a good explanation for why that happens, but that’s the nature of storms,” ​​said Valerie Meola, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Flagstaff.

Jacquetta Brown was walking on a trail in Canyon de Chelly near Chinle, Arizona this week when torrential rain broke through and she saw the red truck partially submerged. The rain is a boon to crops that families plant in the canyon and to livestock, she said, but the monsoon also has a downside.

“We have dirt roads here and if we can’t cross the laundry, we can’t go to work or school,” Brown said.

While just 0.3 inches (0.76 centimeters) of rain was recorded at the Las Vegas airport late Thursday, more than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) fell just one mile away at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. said Adair.

Nearby gusts peaked at 71 mph (114 kph) and knocked down trees. Pea-sized hail fell from the lightning-fast skies in Henderson’s suburbs, which saw nearly an inch of rain falling in some areas.

Police, county and city officials and the weather service said no injuries or widespread damage were reported.

“An evening we will never forget,” Circa owner Derek Stevens said in a Twitter post.

“Last night’s weather took Vegas by storm and we were no exception,” Stevens said Friday. “But the show must go on and I’m happy to report that repairs are underway.”

The string-locked sportsbook seats were expected to reopen over the weekend, he said.

Rapid runoff from sunlit lots flooded intersections, forcing vehicles to crawl through high water near Las Vegas Boulevard and Main Street. Flood control channels turned into swirling torrents. Distributed power outages were reported in areas including the pedestrian zone of the downtown Fremont Street Experience casino.

People navigate the rainy trails as power goes out at the Fremont Street Experience as a powerful storm sweeps through the area on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in Las Vegas.
People navigate the rainy trails as power goes out at the Fremont Street Experience as a powerful storm sweeps through the area on Thursday, July 28, 2022 in Las Vegas.

LE Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal via TBEN

Firefighters in Las Vegas responded to 330 calls for help and rapid water teams rescued seven people between 9 p.m. and midnight, city spokesman Jace Radke said. Clark County firefighters responded to six water rescue calls, county spokesman Stacey Welling said.

Adair said the Las Vegas area usually receives about 4.2 inches (10.7 centimeters) of rain per year, but the official measuring station at the airport has recorded less than 0.7 inches (1.8 centimeters) by 2022.

The surface level at the region’s drought-stricken water supply — the Lake Mead reservoir behind the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River — has fallen to less than 30%.

While runoff from storms in the Las Vegas area will reach the lake, the moisture from the monsoon likely won’t affect the ongoing regional drought, Adair said.

“For that, we generally rely on the winter season, where we get multiple storms in the Pacific that cover a large area with rain and snow,” the meteorologist said. “That can have a significant impact on drought.”

Fonseca reported from Flagstaff, Arizona.