FIRST PERSON | Summer in Las Vegas is not only warmer, it is usually wetter as well. July marks the beginning of monsoon season, and mother nature did not wait to put on a show once July arrived in the Las Vegas Valley. Rain arrived as soon as the calendar turned to the first day of flash flood season; now the city is hearing emergency warnings on the radio more often than Katy Perry.
Many visitors to Las Vegas are not ready for the extreme weather conditions this time of year, but there are guidelines to follow, especially as July 7-10 features rain in the National Weather Service forecast for Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is not as bad as it once was when it comes to flash flooding, but there are still bad areas to avoid. Some of the worst areas are the new swaths of homes that were not fully developed before the real estate crash in 2008. Areas in Southern Highlands and North Las Vegas now see flash flooding any time there is substantial rainfall.
The flash flood potential rating posted on the National Weather Service site shows two areas at serious risk. Areas to the south and to the north are the two appear in red for the next couple of days. Red represents the highest potential for flash flooding.
These areas are still lacking flood channels and are the most likely candidates to experience flash flooding. The summer monsoon season can catch drivers off guard easily. A typical monsoon can drop up to 2 inches in less than 15 minutes, turning a low-lying area into a raging river in a matter of minutes.
Another aspect of the summer monsoon season is the phenomenon known as the Haboob. A Haboob, Arabic for a strong wind or wind phenomenon, takes place when a monsoon breaks out on the desert floor and pelts the loose silt of the desert, raising a massive dust storm up to 3,000 feet high. Phoenix and other Arizona cities suffered their first Haboob of the season Wednesday. The dust cloud darkened the skies in seconds, enveloping the cities in dust and silt.
Our Amazing Planet gives Phoenix the honor as the Haboob capital of the world. Although Phoenix has several Haboobs a year, the storm is also common in the Sahara Desert in Africa and in Iraq, among other dry, desolate places around the world.
Las Vegas has small experience with Haboobs but the area is known more for flash floods. There are still some areas on the Las Vegas Strip prone to flooding. The garage behind the Imperial Palace is notorious for flooding when Las Vegas Boulevard experiences a lot of rainfall in a short time.
The key to driving in Las Vegas this time of year is awareness of the surroundings. Do not cross any areas where water is running across the road. A car can get sucked up and swept away in running water that is just a few inches deep.
Todd Jacobs is a Las Vegas resident with knowledge of the city and surrounding desert areas of Nevada and beyond.
- North Las Vegas
- flash flood season
- the Las Vegas Strip
- Las Vegas Boulevard