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Strong storm brings gusty winds, rain chances to Las Vegas

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Leila Navidi

A tourist holds on to her hat at the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign on a gusty and dusty day in Las Vegas Thursday, April 7, 2011.

Updated Thursday, April 7, 2011 | 4:10 p.m.

Windy Day in Vegas

Kiara Prado, left, 19, and Monica Farias, 19, experience the wind while feeding ducks at Sunset Park on a gusty and dusty day in Las Vegas Thursday, April 7, 2011. Launch slideshow »

It's certainly not skirt-wearing or picnic weather today as winds invade the region, with gusts barreling toward the 50-mph mark in Las Vegas, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service has issued a high wind warning until midnight today for portions of Southern Nevada and southeast California.

Southwest winds of 25 to 40 mph, with gusts to around 65 mph, are expected through the afternoon before decreasing during the early evening hours, forecasters said.

Sustained wind speeds measured 32 mph at McCarran International Airport with gusts of 47 mph, forecasters said. At Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, one gust was clocked at 77 mph.

The strong winds made travel difficult on some roads around the region, especially on north/south roads with strong crosswinds, forecasters said. Drivers of motorcycles, vans, campers, trailers and high-profile vehicles should be prepared for crosswinds, according to the weather service.

Blowing dust will likely reduce visibilities to less than a quarter of a mile near dry lake beds.

The winds are being brought by a powerful Pacific storm that will slowly shift east through Saturday, the weather service said.

The highest gust ever recorded at McCarran was 90 mph, set during a thunderstorm on Aug. 9, 1989, the weather service said. The highest non-thunderstorm gust occurred March 21, 1984, with a speed of 82 mph.

The highest wind gust recorded in April at MaCarran was 69 mph on April 30, 1988, as a cold front was moving through.

The last time a non-thunderstorm wind gust exceeded 70 mph was May 30, 1991, when a 73-mph gust knocked down signs, including one at the former Vegas World Casino on the north end of the Strip. That wind storm also knocked down dozens of power lines that caused outages across the valley.

Along with the winds, scattered showers are expected over the southern Sierra today, then across Southern Nevada and northwest Arizona on Friday, with much colder temperatures across the region through Saturday.

Friday’s temperatures are expected to drop 10 to 15 degrees below normal, with the high reaching only 58 degrees in Las Vegas.

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