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Radar image from Las Vegas WSR-88D radar on July 4, 2012

Radar image from Las Vegas WSR-88D radar on July 4, 2012 showing a band of rain that moved across the area.


Rain Returns To The Mojave Desert And Southern Great Basin

Rain finally fell across the Mojave Desert and southern Great Basin for the first time in over a month! In some locations, this was the first rain to fall since April of this year. Moisture was pulled north into our area by a southerly flow that set up between an upper level low off the coast of Baja California and a broad area of high pressure aloft over the Southeast United States. In addition, a disturbance moving north across the Colorado River Valley also help to set off precipitation. Unlike most monsoons which start with scattered pop-up thunderstorms, this year's was different in that very little lightning was observed across the area. Abundant cloud cover during the morning of July 4th kept the atmosphere relatively stable and as a result the rain that did fall was fairly light and in a large band as seen on the radar image above.

In Las Vegas, this marked only the sixth time any rain has fallen on July 4th at the official climate station since records started in 1937. A total of 0.03 inch fell at McCarran International Airport, which was enough to make this the second wettest 4th of July on record. Only 1949, when 0.16 inch fell, ranks wetter. Although rain is not that common on July 4th, you only need to go back to last year for the last wet July 4th in Las Vegas which had a trace of rain at McCarran. Other wet years include 1975 when 0.01 inch fell and 1954 and 2006 when a trace fell.

The rain that fell on July 4, 2012 in Las Vegas at the official climate station marked the first time any precipitation has fallen at McCarran Airport since April 26th of this year when a trace was reported. The last measurable precipitation was back on April 14th of this year when 0.01 inch fell. The streak of 68 days from April 27th through July 3rd ties as the 10th longest stretch without any precipitation. A 68 day stretch starting on May 8, 1976 also featured no precipitation.

An extremely dry winter across the area resulted in drought conditions developing, which became worse during the spring as little to no precipitation fell. The rain that fell on July 4th was not heavy enough to significantly reduce the intensity of the drought in our area. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the latest drought status across our area and was established to assess drought severity in a subjective but uniform manner.  Since 1999, various agencies, including those within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have pooled their expertise with that of academia and local interests to more accurately categorize drought.  Incorporating the input of all these entities, the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) issues a weekly assessment of drought severity on a national scale. The image below shows the drought scale on July 3, 2012.

Drought Monitor on July 3, 2012

Below is a list of selected rainfall totals from this event.

July 4, 2012 Precipitation Totals
Location Total Precipitation Source
Las Vegas Valley, NV
NWS Las Vegas 0.06 inch NWS Staff
Southern Highlands 0.05 inch Mesonet
West Aliante 0.05 inch NWS Employee
Durango & Cactus 0.04 inch CCRFCD
Hualapai & Patrick 0.04 inch CoCoRaHS
Summerlin 0.04 inch CoCoRaHS
McCarran Int'l Airport 0.03 inch ASOS
Tropicana & Buffalo 0.03 inch CoCoRaHS
Robindale&Pecos 0.02 inch CoCoRaHS
Tenaya & Washington 0.02 inch CoCoRaHS
Nellis Air Force Base 0.01 inch ASOS
North Las Vegas Airport 0.01 inch ASOS
East Lake Mead Parkway Trace CoCoRaHS
Greenway & Heather Trace CoCoRaHS
Henderson Executive Airport Trace AWOS
Elsewhere In Clark County, NV
Mt. Charleston/Rainbow Canyon 0.50 inch SNOTEL
Mt. Charleston/Kyle Canyon 0.27 inch Co-Op Observer
Mt. Charleston/Kyle Canyon 0.25 inch RAWS
Mountain Springs 0.12 inch RAWS
Spring Mountain Ranch 0.08 inch Co-Op Observer
Searchlight 0.06 inch Co-Op Observer
Indian Springs 0.03 inch ASOS
Laughlin 0.03 inch Co-Op Observer
Red Rock Canyon 0.03 inch RAWS
Mesquite 1.5 NE Trace CoCoRaHS
Overton Trace Co-Op Observer
Valley of Fire State Park Trace Co-Op Observer
Central and Southern Nye County, NV
NNSS - Area 12 0.13 inch Mesonet
Pahrump 10.5 SSE 0.07 inch CoCoRaHS
Pahrump - North 0.01 inch Co-Op Observer
Amargosa Valley Trace Co-Op Observer
Desert Rock Airport Trace ASOS
Lincoln County, NV
Caliente 0.03 inch Co-Op Observer
Pioche 0.02 inch Co-Op Observer
Rachel 0.01 inch Co-Op Observer
Inyo County, CA
Panamint 0.08 inch RAWS
Death Valley/Furnace Creek Trace Co-Op Observer
Death Valley/Scotty's Castle Trace Park Service
San Bernardino County Deserts, CA
Northeast Barstow 0.41 inch Mesonet
Parker Reservoir 0.12 inch Co-Op Observer
Horse Thief Spring 0.11 inch RAWS
Essex 0.10 inch Mesonet
Joshua Tree 0.07 inch Co-Op Observer
Twentynine Palms MCAS 0.06 inch ASOS
Twentynine Palms MCAS 0.06 inch ASOS
Morongo Valley North 0.04 inch Co-Op Observer
Needles 0.04 inch ASOS
Yucca Valley 0.04 inch Co-Op Observer
Iron Mountain 0.03 inch Co-Op Observer
Landers 0.03 inch Mesonet
Barstow-Daggett Airport Trace ASOS
Mohave County, AZ
Crossman Peak 0.24 inch Alert
Moss Basin 0.15 inch RAWS
Wikieup 0.15 inch Co-Op Observer
Lake Havasu City 0.10 inch Co-Op Observer
Golden Valley 0.04 inch Alert
Hualapai Mountain 0.04 inch Alert
Bullhead City 0.03 inch Co-Op Observer
Kingman 0.03 inch ASOS


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Las Vegas Weather Forecast Office
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Las Vegas, NV 89139-6628

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