Tropical Storm Hilary Fears Prove Overblown in Las Vegas

Posted on: August 21, 2023, 08:44h. 

Last updated on: August 21, 2023, 06:34h.

The tropical storm formerly known as Hurricane Hilary may be wreaking havoc in Southern California, where it has caused power cuts and “life-threatening” flash floods. But it left Las Vegas largely unscathed despite warnings Sunday of possible flooding.

Storm Hilary, Las Vegas
A satellite image of Storm Hilary, which has battered Southern California but spared Nevada and Las Vegas. (Image: Sky News)

Thankfully, Gov. Joe Lombardo’s (R) decision to declare a state of emergency and activate 100 Nevada National Guardsmen to support Southern Nevada has proved to be overcautious so far. A statewide high-wind warning remains in effect until 8 p.m. Monday.

On Sunday, 291 flights bound for or departing from Harry Reid International Airport were canceled because of hazardous weather.

Dramatic footage of water rushing through the LINQ parking garage emerged on social media on Sunday, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. The LINQ is built on top of a natural waterway known as the Flamingo Wash that carries rainwater from the Las Vegas Valley to Lake Mead. As the locals know, it’s expected to flood every time it rains.

Sphere Not Broken

Meanwhile, a rumor that the Las Vegas sphere had been damaged by rain because the architects “forgot to make it waterproof” proved to be unfounded. The sphere’s giant LED display was showing a glitchy purple and black. But this theme has been seen before and is thought to be related to calibration or general testing rather than a technical error.

Nevertheless, one Twitter user wondered whether they should “put it in rice” just to be on the safe side.

Elsewhere, local social media users lampooned what they perceived as an overreaction to the storm.

Las Vegas has been absolutely devastated by several dark clouds. Please send thoughts and prayers,” quipped Vital Vegas’ Scott Roeben.

“So far, this has been the most disappointing hurricane ever,” tweeted the Las Vegas Locally account. “We will rebuild,” it added.

Outages in California

However, Hilary is no joking matter in California, where around 65K homes are dealing with power outages. The risk of flash flooding will continue through Monday as the storm makes its way north.

Palm Springs received half a year’s rainfall in just six hours on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, and the emergency phone system was knocked out.

To compound matters, a magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles on Sunday. There were no immediate reports of damage or injury from the quake.

Hurricane Hilary was downgraded to a tropical storm as it crossed the U.S.-Mexico border on Sunday evening. It’s the first tropical storm to hit California since Nora in 1997.

Meteorologists expect it to continue north through the state before dissipating in Northern Nevada late Monday.