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National Weather Service warns of more flash flooding for Las Vegas area

Updated Monday, July 22, 2013 | 4:19 p.m.

Thunderstorm Sweeps Valley

Lightning strikes south of McCarran International Airport as a storm makes its way across the Las Vegas Valley Friday, July 19, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Example of flash flooding following fire

The National Weather Service has issued a warning for Clark County that possible high winds, hail and flash flooding could strike the valley this afternoon and evening.

Forecasters said wind gusts could reach 50 mph.

Though it's still difficult to accurately predict when and where the storms could form, weather service meteorologist Ryan Metzger said there was about a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms forming and creating rain and hail this afternoon.

Heavy rains near Mount Charleston prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning Monday afternoon for portions of the area.

The warning was issued at 3:03 p.m. after a thunderstorm dumped heavy amounts of rain about 6 miles southeast of Willow Creek campground in the Mount Charleston area, meteorologist Jim Harrison said. The warning is in effect until 5 p.m.

Areas affected by the flooding include Lee Canyon Road, Deer Creek Road, Cold Creek, Cold Creek Road and Willow Creek campground.

Though there was concern that rain in that area could spark worsened flash floods due to the conditions after a wildfire that burned about 28,000 acres, most of the rain hit an area unaffected by the blaze, Harrison said. Flash floods are expected to hit low-lying areas of the mountain and could affect drivers and hikers in the area, he said.

Thunderstorms could lead to potentially devastating consequences for areas on Mount Charleston hit by the fire, Metzger said. Blackened earth from the fire forms a type of residue that reflects water when it would usually be absorbed into the ground, he said. The lack of vegetation due to the fire also removes a potential slowing agent for rain runoff, he said.

The Clark County Regional Flood Control District is keeping an eye on any precipitation in Kyle Canyon, where they fear water will quickly make its way to the northwest part of the valley after the fire destroyed much of the vegetation, district spokeswoman Erin Neff said.

"In a mountainous area like in Mount Charleston, if the water doesn't go in the ground, it goes straight down," Metzger said.

Though the potential for additional flooding in other parts of the county remains low, Harrison said heavy rain in other areas will remain a possibility throughout the night.

Potential monsoon conditions will continue throughout the week as heavy areas of moisture in the atmosphere slowly dry out, Metzger said. Chances for thunderstorms and other extreme weather conditions will decrease as the area dries out, he said.

The warning comes on the heels of major thunderstorms Friday and Saturday that caused flooding and power outages.

Between 40-50 people were evacuated Friday from their homes at the Atrium Garden Condos at 3516 Folage Drive, near Washington Avenue and Pecos Road, where the storm snapped trees in half, with some trees falling onto 12 apartment units, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said Saturday. Gas and power were shut off at the complex until damage could be repaired and the trees removed.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center at Desert Pine High School for the displaced residents, and 20 people remained in the center as of Monday morning, according to Brooke Malone, spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Red Cross.

Las Vegas Fire & Rescue has transferred responsibility for getting residents back into their homes to the Atrium Gardens Homeowners Association, whose board planned emergency meetings today to discuss the situation.

The Clark County Regional Flood Control District basins still have some water in them from the weekend, but the system has handled the weekend storms without incident and is ready for more precipitation this week, spokeswoman Erin Neff said.

“What we had over the weekend from a flood control perspective was pretty minimal,” Neff said. “The system held up the way it’s supposed to. We had a lot of water in the washes in Henderson but no reports of major street flooding.”

Neff said the district is watching forecasts closely, and the key factors are how the storms are moving and how much water they dump along the way. The district operates 90 flood control basins and 500 miles of flood channels.

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