Flooding Caught Vegas Residents Off Guard

Usually, flooding is not on the minds of Vegas residents. In fact, with only 4 inches of rain per year on average, the idea of flooding is far removed from most people’s minds. But, it can happen. It did happen in 1999, and it was bad. Maybe your were there?

It was July 8, 1999. The forecast for Las Vegas was rain, a rare forcast. Unfortunately, most residents didn’t take the forecast seriously. They had heard similar weather reports before only to dismiss them as the skies cleared and the rain clouds drifted off to somewhere else. However, this day was different. The clouds did not move away and a storm did ensue.

Well, locals had seen rain before so at first they didn’t pay too much attention. But, soon, the rain was lasting longer and coming down harder than they had been used to. The thing that makes Las Vegas different in a rain storm is its hard, crusty ground. Nearly 300 days a year are rain free and this fact makes for some tough ground. And, the ground doesn’t easily absorb water. Thus, just a little rain can cause a massive runoff and flooding situations.

As a matter of fact, I have witnessed two flood situations over the last 28 years. What are the odds of that? Even if you frequent the area the odds are about 30 to 1 against your seeing rain of any amount.

Another factor that affects Las Vegas in a flood situation is a substance called caliche. Caliche is formed over time by mixing water with calcium carbonate that is embedded in the Nevada soil. This makes the soil almost like rock and leaves no where for water to go. So, it follows the terrain. In the 1999 flood, the waters washed through the Strip area and smashed its way into the casino at Caesars Palace as well as other establishments on the Strip. That damage when the waters receded was a total of $20 million dollars.

All this to say, that on one of your trips to Las Vegas, you may see rain. If you do, make sure you are not in a low lying area. Flooding can start fairly quickly and it doesn’t take that much rain to cause problems.

Here is another flood story.



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