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Rare Snow to Wind Down Across Desert Southwest

By By Ed Vallee, Meteorologist
January 02, 2015, 5:45:26 AM EST

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As cold air continues to plunge southward in the West, a storm will continue to produce rare New Year's Day snow in part of the Southwest.

Pack some warm clothes and perhaps winter boots if you are heading to the Southwest for the New Year's holiday. Motorists heading over the mountains should expect delays due to snow-covered roads.

A winter storm developed over the Southwest states at the end of 2014.


The storm has not only delivered snow to the mountains of the Four Corners states, Nevada and Southern California, but also some low-elevation locations in the region that rarely receive accumulating snow.

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During Wednesday, a touch of snow fell around Las Vegas, but failed to accumulate in the city. Much of the snow was evaporating before it reached the ground around the city.

At Las Vegas, snowfall matched the record for most snow ever on New Year's Eve at a trace of snow, the National Weather Service confirmed.

According to the Las Vegas National Weather Service Office, there have only been 15 snowstorms that brought greater than 1 inch of snow. Records have been kept since 1937.


The last and only snowstorm on record during New Year's Day around Las Vegas was in 1974, when accumulations ranged from 2 to 5.5 inches in the area. The official New Year's Day record for McCarran International Airport is 4.4 inches.

"Unusually cold air will target the southwestern U.S. into the start of the new year. The last time Las Vegas had measurable snow was on Dec. 17, 2008, when 3.6 inches of snow fell," said Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel.

Heavy snow fell in the mountains east of Las Vegas. Flagstaff, Arizona, received close to 17 inches of snow from the storm.

Snow fell along the Colorado River on the California/Arizona border, at an elevation lower than Las Vegas on Wednesday, including Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, Arizona.


As snow winds down in the Arizona mountains on New Year's Day, locally heavy snow will fall on portions of southern Colorado and New Mexico. During New Year's Day morning, snow was falling on Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The same storm was producing a swath of ice across central and northwest Texas on New Year's Day.

Soon after the storm finishes its task in the Southwest, it will spread a swath of snow, ice and rain into the Midwest and Northeast this weekend.

Story by Meteorologist Ed Vallee with content contributed by Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

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