Winter storms in the U.S. Southwest brought snow to places it rarely falls, dusting casino marquees on the Las Vegas Strip and sticking at very low elevations.
The rare snowfall at low levels in Nevada prompted revelers to erect a snowman near the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.
The weather service reported the first significant snowfall at McCarran International Airport in a decade with 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) falling by Thursday afternoon.
“We don’t have snowplows,” airport spokeswoman Christine Crews said as she tallied about 100 flight cancellations because of snow and ice. “But we have airfield maintenance vehicles and sweepers ready to go.”
Some suburban foothill areas near Las Vegas were white after getting several inches of snow. On the casino-lined Las Vegas Strip, the snow was fleeting, melting faster than a bad gambler’s luck.
“We expected cold, but not snow,” tourist Lila de Guerrero said after taking a photo at the Las Vegas sign wearing a puffer coat and hat.
De Guerrero, who is visiting from El Salvador, said it was the first time she had ever seen snow.
German tourist Daniela Huber said she was surprised that her vacation to the desert wasn’t much of an escape from winter.
“We thought it was strange because we came from Germany, where it snows all the time,” she said.
Outside the city, authorities closed portions of the main routes from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and Phoenix because of snow, ice and limited visibility.