Southwest rains flood deserts, fall in Vegas casinos – Times of India


LAS VEGAS: Intense summer thunderstorms affecting parts of Las . to have soaked Vegas — causing water to spill 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 all weekend, a national weather official said.
“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 on Friday.
“This is turning out to be a pretty active monsoon season compared to the past five years or so. There are plenty 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 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.
Parts of the Hualapai Mountains in Mohave County have received up to 15.2 inches of rain in recent days, Adair said. The National Weather Service said parts of Arizona can expect 1 (2.5 centimeters) to 2 (5 centimeters) inches of rain per hour before a flood watch expires on Saturday morning.
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.
Governor of New Mexico Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday that the federal agency for disaster relief 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 opened the back door two weeks ago when torrential rain fell, sending an inch of rain and mud 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.”
Parts of Arizona, including the cities of Heber, Show Low, Bellemont and Prescott, have so far received nearly 200 percent of normal rainfall during the monsoon, which began on June 15 and runs through September. However, the weather pattern is hit and miss, meaning some places like Payson are well below normal.
“There’s not really a good explanation for why that happens, but that’s part of the nature of storms,” ​​he said Valerie Meolaa 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 and school,” Brown said.
While just 0.76 inches of rain was recorded late Thursday at the Las Vegas airport, more than an inch fell just one mile away at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Adair said.
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.
Casino customers posted videos of water pouring from ceilings at the Caesars Palace and Planet Hollywood resorts on the Las Vegas Strip and from behind a huge video screen in the hotel casino sportsbook in downtown Circa. A video showed a man who kept betting on a casino slot machine as water fell around him.
“A night 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 street 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.
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 spokeswoman says 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 of 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 percent.
Although runoff from storms in the Las Vegas area will reach the lake, the moisture from the monsoon is unlikely to 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.”

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