A severe thunderstorm brought high winds, heavy rains and a dramatic lightning show to the Las Vegas Valley early Friday evening. The storm kept valley firefighters busy for approximately four hours. There were no serious injuries reported because of the storm.
The storm was tracked by radar. It followed a path along Interstate 15 southbound late Friday afternoon. As it crossed Nellis Air Force Base, winds were clocked at 71 miles per hour according to a twitter account by the National Weather Service just after 7 p.m. It continued south into the city with high winds, heavy rain, small hail and lots of lightning and thunder. It was most intense in an area between Eastern Avenue on the west and Nellis Boulevard on the east.
As it crossed Washington Avenue it appeared to have intensified. It blew down several trees, wires, utilities poles and caused minor street flooding. One of the places that seemed to have been hit the hardest was the Atrium Garden Condo complex on Pecos Road between Washington Avenue and Bonanza Road. At 7:40 p.m. fire dispatchers received several calls from residents in the complex of a strong odor of natural gas. When firefighters arrived, they found that several trees had either snapped in half and fell onto some of the buildings or they were blown over and uprooted. The roots severed underground natural gas lines as they were uprooted. Utility and light poles were also knocked down. As a precaution all 300 units were evacuated because of the gas leak. Approximately 40-50 people were evacuated. They were taken by Clark County School District buses to nearby Desert Pines High School which was being used by the American Red Cross as an evacuation center for the displaced residents. By 11 p.m. approximately 25 people had reported to the center, a few people kept trickling in as they came home and found their home damaged.
Southwest Gas workers shut the gas off to the complex by way of a main valve under the street. They said they would monitor the situation during the night. They did not plan to repair the broken lines in the complex until trees were removed and damage repaired.
Fire officials estimated that 12 building received significant damage. Inspectors from the Las Vegas Building and Safety Department were on hand to determine how significant the damage was.
Metro Police sent several units to the area to protect the area. They planned to have a heavy presence at the complex all night.
Residents told fire officials that at approximately 7:15 p.m. the storm hit the complex. Very high winds, some estimating 70-80 miles per hour started to snap trees in half. They said they could not see much because of the intense rain and small hail. Some said it was like being in a tornado.
Even though there was significant damage, there were no reported injuries of either residents or first responders during the incident.
At approximately the same time that the condo complex was being damaged, another apartment building at 588 Blue Lagoon Drive sustain considerable damage when a very large tree fell onto the building. At the same time the tree also damaged the natural gas meter to the apartment building causing a gas leak. No one was hurt during that incident.
The Fire Alarm Office / Fire & Medical 9-1-1 center for Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Clark County received approximately 100 weather related calls from 7:15 until 10 p.m. Most were wires / poles reported down, downed trees, trees on fire from being hit by lightning, motor vehicle accidents, alarms activated by the storm and 11 swift water rescue calls. Nearly all of the swift water rescue calls turned out to be disabled motorist in deep water. None of the them was life threatening.
Rain caused minor street flooding mostly on the eastside. In some places especially around Sahara Avenue and Boulder Highway people said the water was almost up to their knees on the roadway. It remained like that for a very short time. Most flooding was minor and cleared up within an hour.
Electricity was out in many places, the largest area along Bonanza Road and Stewart Avenue from Eastern Avenue to Nellis Boulevard. NV Energy had several crews out working the many calls. Some involved utility poles that were snapped in half, in one area they had four poles downed in a row.
By 11 p.m. calls were back to normal and crews were working to bring everything back to normal.