LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Steven Parrish, general manager and chief engineer for the Clark County Regional Flood Control District, said emergency management teams for Clark County, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, city governments, and the Nevada Department of Transportations have begun coordinating and preparing as the storm approaches southern Nevada.
“We designed for what’s called “the 100-year event” or “the 1 percent chance storm,” so what that translates to in Las Vegas is about 2.77 inches of rain over a six-hour period,” Parrish said. “We’re expecting rainfall at around that level.”
Parrish said his team is expecting that the system developed to protect the Las Vegas valley from flooding will be able to handle the flows, adding that the amount of moisture in the atmosphere is expected to exceed that of the typical monsoon season in the region.
Clark County’s 684 miles of channels and storm drains and 106 detention basins are expected to be in heavy use as the storm hits the Las Vegas valley, Parrish said, moving water from place to place to avoid flooding. Still, he says officials expect gathering water in the streets.
“Our recommendation to people would be — if you can — just shelter in place,” he said. “There’s going to be street flooding, […] it’s going to be difficult to drive.”
Parrish advised those who have to travel not to walk or drive through flooded areas, making it clear that while officials aren’t expecting enough rainfall to cause flooding infrastructure failure, they are concerned about the outlying areas of Clark County.
“We don’t really know exactly where it’s going to rain or how much just yet,” he said. “Each hour it seems like the National Weather Service is revising things […] as they learn more information and things start to solidify.”
There is a concern for southern Nevada’s homeless population as many live in storm drains that will soon be filled with water. Parrish said outreach has been ongoing to communicate with those people who inhabit the drains.
“They’ve been posting warnings at different locations, but there’s a lot of storm drain to cover,” he said. “It’s hard to find […] everyone, everywhere, so we’re quite concerned about that.”
Officials expect water to flow through the Flamingo wash, which can be seen in the parking structure of the LINQ Hotel, adding that security at that resort has been notified of the expected water flow and will keep people safe and out of the wash area.
Parrish said there is historical precedent for the rainfall expected over the weekend, citing 2014’s intense rainfall that washed out five miles of Interstate 15.
“It can produce a heavy amount of rainfall,” he said. “We worry more the more intense that rainfall is.”
Parrish said that the oncoming storm presents a “better than average chance” of a “100-year event.”
“It’s Mother Nature, so we got to see what kind of hand she deals us, and then we’ll go from there.”