Las Vegas, NV – September got off to a wet start in the Desert Southwest as the monsoon season made a final push before giving way to autumn. Flood Watches stretched across a wide expanse of the Southwest and parts of the Northwest, encompassing areas from Nevada into southwestern Utah, throughout Idaho, and eastern Oregon.
On Sunday, the region braced for yet another round of scattered strong thunderstorms capable of dumping more than an inch of rain in a short span, which could lead to flash flooding and excessive runoff.
The monsoon rains and flash flooding caused significant disruptions for tens of thousands of people attending the Burning Man festival in remote western Nevada. Authorities are investigating at least one reported death during the rain event at the festival. Festivalgoers have been advised to remain in place until it’s safe to travel, as the gates in and out of Black Rock City, Nevada, remain closed due to the wet conditions on the playa.
Las Vegas itself has witnessed multiple rounds of intense thunderstorms, resulting in torrential downpours and widespread flash flooding. Roads turned into shallow rivers, stranding vehicles across various parts of the city, as rainfall rates reached nearly an inch in mere minutes.
The Las Vegas International Airport reported 0.88 inches of rain on Friday, almost three times the city’s typical September monthly average and marking the wettest September day in over a decade. This year, the airport has measured 3.99 inches of monsoonal rain, with 28 days remaining in the season. However, rainfall totals have varied throughout the Las Vegas Valley during the monsoon season, with some areas outside downtown Las Vegas recording up to 4 inches of rain, according to the Clark County Regional Flood Control District.
Beyond the city limits, heavy rains flooded State Route 127, leaving several vehicles stranded in the Baker and Tecopa areas. Additionally, both directions of Interstate 15 were closed to State Road 168/Glendale Boulevard due to flooding on Hidden Valley Road, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.
Video footage captured by Dwayne Scales of StormRunner Media depicted a bus stranded on Lake Mead Boulevard as muddy water surged by, with some cars attempting to navigate the treacherous waters.
Flash floods also forced the closure of multiple roads in Mt. Charleston over the weekend. “Emergency management reported ongoing, extensive flash flooding across the Las Vegas Valley from rain that fell earlier in the evening,” noted the NWS Las Vegas.
In response to the crisis, the National Weather Service issued multiple Flash Flood Warnings throughout the valley on Saturday, with reports of rockslides and washouts south of the city, particularly in the vicinity of Parker Dam.
The heavy rainfall proved too much for the roof of Allegiant Stadium to handle. A football game between the Bryant Bulldogs and UNLV Rebels was underway when water began leaking into the arena. Some observation sites reported approximately 2 inches of rain, causing certain streets to resemble fast-flowing rapids.
The Las Vegas region is expected to gradually dry out on Sunday. However, showers and thunderstorms are forecasted to shift northward into Northern Utah, including Salt Lake City, as well as southeastern Idaho and eastern Oregon.
Southern Utah faces an increasing flash flood threat due to the continuation of monsoonal rain in the forecast. In Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, heavy rainfall triggered rock and mudslides over the weekend, leading National Park Service rangers to close The Navajo Trail Loop to hikers on Sunday due to hazardous conditions.