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Las Vegas breaks 61-year-old record for days without measurable rain

Updated September 18, 2020 - 11:34 am

The last time Las Vegas went this long without registering rain, the U.S. comprised 49 states, little girls had discovered a brand-new doll named Barbie, and a neon sign that would become one of the city’s most iconic landmarks was just months old.

On Friday, Las Vegas had its 150th straight day with no measurable rainfall at McCarran International Airport, breaking a record set more than six decades earlier, on July 21, 1959.

McCarran last saw rain 151 days ago, on April 20, when 0.2 inches fell on a 79 degree spring day.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kate Guillet had expressed confidence that the record would be surpassed Friday.

“Officially, it’ll be broken at midnight,” Guillet said. “We know it’s not going to rain. We’re comfortable it’s not going to rain in the middle of day.”

During the 1959 record period, the valley went without rain for 150 days between Feb. 22 and July 21. That record was nearly as old as the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, designed by Betty Willis and installed in May 1959. It also predated statehood for Hawaii, which was admitted to the Union on Aug. 21 that year.

Only a few traces of rain have fallen since April, namely on July 19, when the valley broke its 89-day dry spell record with nine minutes of rain at the airport.

And the weather service is pretty confident it’s not going to rain anytime soon, Guillet said. Friday’s high was 103 degrees, and skies were hazier than they were Thursday because of stronger winds.

“Not anything like dense fog. More like not being able to see the mountains,” Guillet said.

The Clark County Department of Environment and Sustainability extended a smoke advisory through Monday, and the weather service issued a red flag warning for Friday because the winds and higher temperatures brought higher fire danger.

Temperatures are expected to level off just under 100 through Wednesday, with lows in the mid-70s.

September averages a high of 94 in Las Vegas, but Guillet said the valley is not expected to break any temperature records on the high side anytime soon.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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