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.”
It has been a long day for #ClarkCounty Public Works working on #snow removal. Most of their efforts were on @GoMtCharleston and at Cold Creek, but for the first time ever, they did Las #Vegas Valley snow removal, plowing 215 on the way to the mountain. #VegasWeather #VegasSnow pic.twitter.com/PhGLFRBpuO
— Clark County Nevada (@ClarkCountyNV) February 22, 2019
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.
— NWS Las Vegas (@NWSVegas) February 21, 2019
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.
#snowpocalypse2019 Heavy snow on I-215 WB and Rainbow WB off ramp. Vehicles are getting stuck on the ramps due to SNOW!!! Use caution in the area. #DriveSafenv #buckleup #nhpsocomm pic.twitter.com/Rq6wgYoxod
— NHP Southern Command (@NHPSouthernComm) February 21, 2019