Photo: Steve Marcus/Associated Press
With summers averaging highs of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, Las Vegas locals are rarely concerned when it comes to rainfall in the city. In fact, it’s normally a nice change to the terrible heat. However, the most recent downpour has brought along more trouble than Las Vegas is used to.
On Thursday, June 30, 2016, Las Vegas was hit with one of the most intense thunderstorms of the year, and possibly ever. The storm brought in wind up to 56 mph, and continuous lighting and showers of rain. Probably the most unusual sight was the golfball sized hail falling from sky. People across the city faced some harshest effects of the weathers’ conditions. “It was hot and sunny, then the clouds rolled in and the rain just would not stop.” says Kevin Tungcab, 20, who witnessed some of the storm’s impact.
Photo: Corlene Byrd/Las Vegas Sun
Multiple vehicles in Henderson stalled as a result of the increased water levels, reaching up to the cars’ headlights. “The storm was so strong. My windshield wipers were turned on high when I was driving, but it was still really hard to see,” says a woman stranded in Henderson during the flooding.
Flood waters were moving up to 30 mph, causing many to be hospitalized. One woman’s body was even found under debris after the flood cleared. Others were rescued in various locations. Washes near Hard Rock Casino Hotel and near Boulder Highway are just a couple of the named rescue sites. The storm also called for 21 flights to be diverted from McCarran International Airport and almost 5,000 people were without electricity.
On average, Las Vegas receives only 4.19 inches of rainfall each year. However, during Thursday’s thunderstorm, different parts of the city received anywhere from 1 ¼ inches to 1 ½ inches in the span of an hour. According to Kim Becker, a Henderson city spokeswoman, “People don’t realize just a few inches of rain can really cause some damage.” With that said, people of Las Vegas need to know how to be prepared in situations like these.
The following lists are suggested by The American National Red Cross to ensure your safety during a natural disaster. These are just condensed lists of safety precautions for thunderstorms specifically. To read the full versions of the lists or advice on how to prepare for other natural disasters, visit redcross.org.
Before the storm:
- Discuss thunderstorm safety and lightning safety with all members of your household.
- Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This area should be away from windows, skylights and glass doors as these could be broken by strong winds or hail.
- Make a list of items to bring inside of safe place in the event of a severe thunderstorm.
- Get trained in first aid and learn how to respond to emergencies.
- Put together an emergency preparedness kit.
During the storm:
- Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates.
- If a severe thunderstorm warning is issued, take shelter in a substantial building or in a vehicle with the windows closed.
- If you can hear thunder, then you are close enough to be in danger from a lightning strike. So remember, if thunder roars, go indoors!
- If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
- If you are outside and cannot reach a safe building, avoid high-ground, water, tall isolated trees; and metal objects such as fences or bleachers. Picnic shelters, dugouts and sheds are not safe.
Even some of the city’s people have some advice for future storms to pass. “People can be more informed on the weather by listening to the radio or checking it before they leave home,” says Tungcab. “This can help everyone be more prepared and understand how to handle these situations.” Jesus Salazar adds on “When they watch the weather channel or listening to the news, people should take action and go out to get anything that they might need during the storm like batteries and water.”
Some of these tips and suggestions may seem like common sense. Although, it is better to be prepared for situations like this in the future, even in Las Vegas.