Rain leaves Vegas drivers stranded

LAS VEGAS - Normally arid Las Vegas was anything but overnight after a series of thunderstorms rolled through southern Nevada.

The rain sent muddy rivers of floodwater tumbling through the northwest part of the city Tuesday night, forcing a handful of swift-water rescues and stranding at least 40 motorists.

No serious injuries were reported and damage was minimal when waters subsided. But officials kept a flash flood watch posted Wednesday.

Heavy rains also fell overnight in Glendale and Overton, which led to the hour-long closure of Interstate 15 a few miles north of Moapa. The closure was caused by flooding in the Weiser Wash, the National Weather Service reported.

Clark County Fire Department spokesman Bob Leinbach said no property damage or evacuations were reported in Moapa, Glendale or Logandale.

Officially at McCarran International Airport 0.46 of an inch fell mostly from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, but at least three weather stations in the Las Vegas valley reported nearly 2 inches of rain, said Ron McQueen, National Weather Service spokesman.

''It varied quite a bit,'' he said Wednesday.

Throughout the valley, scattered rainfall varied from a trace to more than 2 inches. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area received 2.28 inches Tuesday, the NWS reported. Angel Park in Summerlin received 1.73 inches of rain, and parts the southwest valley got 1.5 inches. Henderson received 0.39 inches.

The area also set a record for the lowest high temperature when Tuesday's daytime temperatures topped out at 82. Overnight temperatures dipped down to the upper 60s, McQueen said.

''That's not a record, but it's one of coolest temperatures we've seen around here for several months,'' he said.

A flash flood watch was in effect until 9 p.m. Wednesday because the soil already is saturated, making the area susceptible to flooding.

''We're definitely going to have some more showers,'' he said, adding that while the rain is not expected to be as widespread as Tuesday, the areas that will be hit should see 1-2 more inches accumulate. ''It's funny to go from a long dry period to flooding overnight, but that's typical for around here.''

This week's rain comes on the heels of a 146-day dry streak that ended Aug. 2 when 0.07 of an inch of rain fell at McCarran. The official total amount of rain for the year is a little more than 2 inches, a little below the area's average rainfall for this time of year. About half of the deficit was made up Tuesday, McQueen said.

The storm was result of monsoonal moisture that moved up from Mexico and combined with a Pacific storm system that swept across Baja into the deserts. The wet weather was extremely late, according to National Weather Service forecasters. A southwest flow associated with a large area of low pressure along the Pacific Northwest coast will bring dry air to the region by Friday, McQueen said.

''It could last for a while,'' he said. ''We will start out September on the dry side.''


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