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October 20, 2014

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Valley recovering from Tuesday’s record rainfall, road closures, power outages

Image

Steve Marcus

Cars drive through storm runoff behind Planet Hollywood during a rainstorm Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

Updated Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 | 10:20 p.m.

Storm Cleanup on I-215

A Nevada Department of Transportation crew works to clear the roadway at the I-215 eastbound off-ramp to the airport connector Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Run off from heavy rains filled the roadway with mud and debris. Launch slideshow »

Rainstorm Rescues

Las Vegas Firefighters escort a man out of the flooded intersection of E. Sahara Avenue and Winterwood Boulevard after his vehicle became stranded, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Flooding in east Las Vegas

A Knudson Middle School student hangs onto a tree after falling down and being dragged by  floodwater near Eastern and Sahara avenues, Sept. 11, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Rainstorm Hits The Valley Hard

Wind turns a woman's umbrella inside out in front of Planet Hollywood during a rainstorm Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Thunderstorm Floods the Strip

Heavy thunderstorms rolled over the valley in the early afternoon of Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012, soaking pedestrians on the strip as seen from Planet Hollywood.

A band of slow-moving thunderstorms accompanied by lightning bolts and record-setting drenching rain rumbled eastward across the Las Vegas Valley midday Tuesday, flooding streets, stranding motorists, collapsing a store roof, frustrating operations at McCarran International Airport and causing havoc on the freeways, including a traffic-halting sheet of slick mud on Interstate 215 near the Airport Connector.

The rainfall was the most for any September day since record keeping began in 1939, the National Weather Service said.

By day's end, the Clark County Fire Department had rescued about 50 people who were stranded in their vehicles due to rising flood waters, in some instances measuring several feet deep, said Dan Kulin, Clark County spokesman. The Nevada Highway Patrol reported twice the volume of accidents for an afternoon — 32 accidents, many of which were single vehicle crashes.

Late Tuesday, firefighters were going door to door advising residents of 45 homes on Walton Heath Avenue and Moortown Street to evacuate their homes for the night, Kulin said. Firefighters believe the flood damage to the homes near Vegas Valley Drive and Nellis Boulevard could cause electrical fires, Kulin said.

NV Energy officials said 1,500 homes were still without power as of 6:20 p.m. The Regional Justice Center in downtown Las Vegas was closed to non-essential business due to flooding. Courts information officer Mary Ann Price said full operations were expected to resume Wednesday morning.

The weight of accumulated rainfall caused a roof to cave in at a 7-Eleven convenience store near Fremont and Bruce streets, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said. No one was injured but the store was closed.

The heaviest rain — 2.05 inches — was recorded near Smoke Ranch Road in northwest Summerlin, the National Weather Service reported. The region's official rainfall measure — taken at McCarran — totaled 1.18 inches by dusk.

Metro Police said the worst flooded intersections included Charleston Boulevard and Eastern Avenue, Swenson Street and Twain Avenue, Lamb Road and Stewart Avenue, Desert Inn Road and Topaz Street and Pollack Drive and Warm Springs Road.

Westbound traffic was restricted along Interstate 215 at the Airport Connector and, at one point, eastbound traffic had been closed from Interstate 15 to Warm Spring Road. Delays were still expected into the evening because of mud and debris.

The rain triggered accidents around the valley, including a three-vehicle collision on a ramp connecting I-215 and Eastern Avenue shortly before 1 p.m.

Landings at McCarran were suspended between about 1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., said spokeswoman Linda Healey. Refueling of aircraft also was suspended during the heavy rainfall, causing a delay for some outbound flights, but refueling was resumed at 2:11 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

A family crosses Las Vegas Boulevard in front of the Bellagio during a rainstorm Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

Healey recommends travelers check McCarran's website to check on the status of flights.

Thunderstorms left about 13,000 NV Energy customers without power during the storms, said Jennifer Davies, a company spokeswoman. About 8,000 customers were without power in North Las Vegas for about 90 minutes. The other outages were scattered around the valley, and NV Energy crews continue to try to repair the outages, she said.

The rain also affected some of the valley’s schools and colleges, with UNLV reporting multiple instances of wet classrooms and offices. Outdoors, students floated around flooded parts of the campus in swimming pool inflatables.

The "Black Lot" parking area near UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center was knee-deep in water, UNLV officials said, and motorists were advised to avoid the area near the Tropicana Avenue garage into the evening. There was flooding on and around the campus but classes continued without interruption, officials said. Not far away, Swenson Street south of Flamingo road received 1.93 inches of rain.

J.D. Smith Middle School in North Las Vegas lost power and rising water threatened some portable classrooms, Clark County Schools spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said. The campus' evening classes were cancelled but the school was expected to reopen on Wednesday, she said.

Just before mid-afternoon, officials said the Regional Justice Center at 200 Lewis Ave. was closed to all non-essential business this afternoon due to flooding. In an email, Mary Ann Price 8th Judicial District Court Information Officer, said hazardous conditions existed due to standing water. She said cleanup was under way and full operations were expected to resume Wednesday morning. Those entering the center for essential business must enter though the south gate (Clark Avenue), she said.

Click to enlarge photo

Cars drive through storm runoff behind Planet Hollywood during a rainstorm Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012.

A flash flood warning for the entire valley was allowed to expire at 5:45 p.m., but a flash flood watch remained in effect until 9 p.m.

Sun reporters Cristina Chang, Paul Takahashi and Brian Nordli contributed to this story.

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  1. Really coming down here east of the airport. Took only a few seconds but enough came down to start a little river flowing through the parking lot.

    Now if only this happened more often!

  2. Beautiful rain up here in Summerlin

  3. Well, it looks like I survived the flooding here in southeast Las Vegas. Mainly because I live on the second floor. But the water level went up about three inches or so on the poor people's place who live underneath me. They are cleaning right now because the water has receded.

    Fortunately the water went around my car in the parking lot. But thank God I turned off my air conditioner. Afraid to turn it on. Probably won't work.

    But as you know, you can't complain about water in the desert.

  4. Spoke too soon. Air conditioner works. Even after being three to six inches underwater.

    So, I might be trapped for a little while, I'll be alright. At least I got air conditioning. (smile)

  5. Good to hear you got your A/C going Colin, quality manufacturing pays off during times like these!

  6. As much as I enjoy reading the Sun every day, I have to call you guys out on this story.

    The title mentions "record rainfall." I was curious about what previous record might be and when it was set (relevant questions in an era of climate change), but that question was never answered. You simply state that it was the "most for any September day since record keeping began in 1939." Did we beat the record by 0.000001 inch? By a full inch? How bad was this "record setting" storm? I also had to look all the way down at paragraph 7 before any actual measurements were cited.

    Sloppy.

  7. Much much better work at 7:45. Thanks Sun Staff!