Heavy rain headed to the valley

It’s time to put away the flip-flops and get out the rain boots as monsoon season continues in Las Vegas with heavy rain expected for the next two weeks.

The chance of thunderstorms begins Friday and extends through Tuesday, with a heavy spike in between.

A tropical depression is gathering strength over the Baja Peninsula and though the National Weather Service hasn’t issued any weather watches or warnings so far, they say it’s coming.

Andrew Gorelow, a meteorologist with the weather service, said Sunday and Monday will see the heaviest rain throughout the valley and the Spring Mountains.

There’s no guarantee of thunderstorms, said Gorelow, but rain is definite at this point. The later that cloud cover begins in the day, the greater chance of thunderstorms.

Mount Charleston will be hit hard by the storm, with chances of heavy rain at 80 percent Sunday and Monday.

Standard precautions are in place for recreation area visitors, such as staying out of low-lying areas and being wary of lightning.

Effects from the Carpenter 1 Fire, however, could bring extra complications.

Debris flow could be worse, said Skye Sieber with the U.S. Forest Service. The fire burned away ground-cover vegetation, or “ground litter” as Sieber called it, leaving soil more exposed and prone to flow downhill with rainfall.

To battle that possibility, two undersized culverts— sections of pipeline that help channel the flow of water — are being removed in Kyle Canyon to allow for a higher volume of water in a more natural path.

One was removed Thursday, upstream from the visitor center. The other was slated to be removed Friday or Saturday, near Fletcher View campground.

The Kyle Canyon picnic area experienced substantial debris flow during last week’s rain, and cleanup is not completed yet. However, the picnic area is currently closed for construction, so visitors were not affected.

Other construction in the area has not been affected by this season’s rainfall so far, said Sieber. Many of Mount Charleston’s campgrounds are closed for renovation, and are still on track despite the wet weather.

The Lake Mead National Recreation Area deals with less hurdles. Area public affairs officer Christie Vanover said the best thing to do is be aware of your GPS coordinates when boating or in the back country, so if a rescue is needed it’s easier to be located.

Winds are not expected to be significant in Southern Nevada, but in Northern Nevada they’re bringing in the smoke from the Rim Fire, just outside of Yosemite National Park, about 100 miles south of the state Capitol.

A cloud of smoke hung Friday over all of northwest Nevada, including Carson City, Reno and Lake Tahoe and is expected to linger through Sunday.

The smoke was so thick the mountains surrounding Carson City were not visible and smell of smoke permeated offices.

Visibility at Reno-Tahoe International Airport was three miles as of noon Friday.

“It helps a little,” said 22-year-old Sarah Wilson of the scarf she wore over her face as she walked slowly next to her dog through a park south of Carson City.

But Phil Ulibarra, a spokesman for the Washoe County Health District, said a scarf is not going keep out particulate matter.

He said Friday was the first day this year the air quality index reached 171. It topped out at a record 211 during fires in 2008.

Even if the wind direction changes, weather officials said smoke still could be pushed into the urban areas from fires. One is burning at the historic mining town of Bodie, Calif., another at Honey Lake, Calif., and a third, the “American Fire,” in a Sierra Nevada 30 miles west of Lake Tahoe.

Contact Annalise Porter at aporter@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0264.