Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010 | 8:25 a.m.
A deep freeze gripping the West sent temperatures plummeting across the Las Vegas Valley this holiday morning as some locations dropped below the freezing mark.
The temperature at the valley's official weather station at McCarran International Airport bottomed out at 33 degrees. While the record books won't indicate Las Vegas got below freezing, plenty of outlying areas in the valley did drop below 32 degrees, forecasters said.
The National Weather Service had expected lows to fall into the 20s across the entire valley early today. Weather service meteorologist Chris Stachelski said temperatures were propped up by winds that were gustier than expected.
"A lot of places were probably at freezing for an hour or two," he said. "We were expecting it to be a little longer, but that's because the wind stayed up."
Some outlying parts of the valley recorded temperatures in the middle 20s, Stachelski said.
The weather service office near Interstate 15 and Blue Diamond Road saw the temperature drop to 31 degrees. North Las Vegas Airport recorded a low of 32 degrees.
Forecasters said sunny weather is on tap for Las Vegas today with a high near 46. Then temperatures across the valley are expected to tumble below the freezing mark Friday morning.
A freeze warning remains posted through 10 a.m. Friday. Forecasters said the low is expected to drop to about 30 degrees Friday morning with outlying areas in the valley falling to about 25.
"It should get colder than it did last night," Stachelski said. "We probably should see the duration of the freeze longer than last night."
Parts of Northern Nevada recorded temperatures this morning more than 50 degrees cooler than those in Las Vegas.
About 250 miles north of the valley, the air temperature in Ely was minus 19 with a wind chill of 44 degrees below zero. Today's high in Ely was expected to reach 14.
The weather service issued a statement warning residents in northern parts of the state about the threat of frostbite and urging them to stay indoors.
"Winds in some locations are combining with the cold temperatures to cause concern for frostbite," according to the statement. "Ely reported a 17 mph wind at 6 a.m. that is producing a wind chill of minus 44 degrees. This could lead to frostbite within 10 minutes."
In Las Vegas, a warm-up is expected Friday and into the weekend with highs in the 50s, but temperatures will stay below average through the middle of next week.
The average high temperature in Las Vegas on today's date, recorded at McCarran, is 62 degrees with an average low of 41, according to weather service records.