Las Vegas Hits Cold Streak, Flights Grounded, Roads Closed Due to Rare Snow and Ice

Posted on: February 22, 2019, 11:35h. 

Last updated on: February 22, 2019, 01:04h.

What are the odds of snow falling in the desert three times in one week? Having seen an inch on Sunday night and several more on Wednesday, Las Vegas’ Westgate Sports Book was offering 60-1 for a third flurry. But those odds soon began dropping as quickly as the temperature.

Vegas snow
Days of snow that hit the Las Vegas Strip and the surrounding valley this week had finally broken by Friday, but not before leaving many tourists stranded at McCarran International Airport in a city not generally prepared for snowfall. (Images: Locher/AP)

By Thursday afternoon, Las Vegas was covered in almost an inch of snow for the first time in a decade, with some suburban foothills experiencing several more.

Tourists built at least one snowman next to the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign,” while the Luxor was described by the LA Times as a “snow-capped pyramid.”

Snow is not unheard of in Las Vegas, but multiple days of snowfall are exceedingly rare. CNN reports the last time this happened was in 1949.

100 Flights Cancelled

Naturally, the rarity of the white stuff leads to a certain unpreparedness when it actually turns up. McCarran International Airport possesses no snow plows. Nor does the entire city of Las Vegas, which includes downtown. Clark County, which includes the Strip, fares slightly better, with four.

Flights have been canceled and roads closed, hampering visitation and likely eating into casino revenues. Authorities closed the Interstate 15 at Primm around noon on Thursday severing the direct route into Las Vegas from Los Angeles, reopening it only on Friday morning. Interstate 11 to the south was also closed.

McCarran airport spokesperson Christine Crews said in an official statement Thursday there had been 100 flight cancellations due to treacherous conditions but airfield maintenance vehicles and sweepers were ready to go in the absence of snow plows.

‘Eerily Quiet’

Although Friday is seeing sunny skies and frigid temps across the Vegas valley, 20-year resident Marci Boudreaux is relieved that customers will be returning to the convenience store where she’s worked graveyard shift just off the Strip for more than a decade.

“It was eerily quiet with all the snowfall these last few days,” Boudreaux told “It’s not normal. I’ll be glad to see our customers back, the roads were too treacherous to drive with the freezing rain and melted snow, especially at night when I work.”

The Las Vegas Forecast Office has said this has been the coldest February on record since 2004.