The heaviest snowfalls in Las Vegas history — PHOTOS
From the 12-inch snow record set in 1909 to the memorable snow day of 2008, Las Vegans have found themselves bewildered by heavy snow days.
Updated December 15, 2022 - 8:31 pm
Snow might be par for the course in the Midwest and Northeast, but for Las Vegas, it’s an event.
Here is a list of the snowiest days in Las Vegas history.
The Review-Journal referred to this great snowstorm 40 years later as the “daddy of all snowstorms” for the Las Vegas area. The storm brought 12 inches of snow and came before a massive flood that began on New Year’s Day 1910. The flood washed out 110 miles of Union Pacific Railroad and prevented travel for several months.
Jan. 9, 1930
Las Vegas was hit with 5 inches of snow in a storm that swept across Nevada from Reno and Elko to all points south.
The Review-Journal reported at the time: “Las Vegas made woopee as a result of this unheard of event for hundreds of local citizens, it was their first snowstorm, and they made the most of it; seven o’clock found most of the younger generation in the streets or vacant lots, rolling snowballs, building snowmen, or having snow-ball battles as they had read of their more fortunate brethern in the northern climes enjoying the winter weather for years and years without ever participating themselves.”
Railroad stations between Las Vegas and Caliente were impacted by heavy snows, disrupting train schedules.
This storm brought tragedy to the valley with the death of Maury Graham, a Western Air Express pilot, who crashed in the Utah mountains and whose body was not recovered until spring.
Dec. 12, 1932
Las Vegas saw 5 inches of snow and a low temperature of 22 degrees on this day. Other parts of Nevada also saw record lows, with Elko reaching -38 degrees and Reno reaching -5 degrees.
Columnist A. E. Cahlan wrote an account on the roads from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. “Never expected to witness the spectacle of scores of cars nosed over into the snow along the highway in THIS part of the universe,” Cahlan wrote.
“For years I have enjoyed stories of snow-bound automobiles with that smug feeling of contentment that goes with the conviction that such a thing could NEVER happen to us. But it almost did.”
Cahlan described large chunks of snow falling outside of Barstow, California, that made the highway impossible to see. “Can’t imagine it — can you? And yet here it is, very much with us. Rather hard to adjust a Las Vegas wardrobe to a heavy fall of snow.”
Feb. 3, 1939
Las Vegas saw 4 inches of snow on this chilly Friday morning, and it was the first snow ever recorded in February for the valley. The storm started in Boulder City, moved into the rest of the valley around 6 a.m. and reached southern Utah two hours later. Planes were grounded, and, as tradition, schoolchildren who had never seen snow in their lifetime made snowballs.
Mount Charleston, where five feet had already accumulated, saw a foot of new snow.
Jan. 10, 1949
Ten years after the last storm, the valley was graced with 3 inches of snow and 14 degree temperatures.
The Review-Journal reported, “Las Vegans took exception to the civic slogan ‘fun in the sun’ today as they waded through an unexpected three inches of snow and then began preparations for the possibility of more of the white…”
But the people of Las Vegas were not prepared.
“Boots, rubbers, galoshes and auto tire chains were vitually non-existent in Las Vegas, storekeepers said as they sadly shook their heads and counted many missed sales which would have kept cash registers jingling.”
January 1949 is the snowiest month recorded in Las Vegas history, with a cumulative total of 16.7 inches falling that month, according to the National Weather Service.
Jan. 1, 1974
This New Year’s Day saw 4.4 inches of snow in the valley, followed by 4.7 inches four days later, according to the weather service.
The Jan. 5 storm caused many car accidents, including 24 on the Casino Center off-ramp on U.S. Highway 95 alone, the Review-Journal reported.
Jan. 31, 1979
About 7.4 inches of snow fell on this Wednesday, according to the weather service, and led to the North Las Vegas Air Terminal temporarily closing.
The Nevada Highway Patrol and Metropolitan Police Department reported “too many accidents to count” on Interstate 15 and the Las Vegas Expressway, now Interstate 515. However, most accidents were not severe, police said.
The highway patrol required snow tires or chains on all vehicles leaving the valley.
Mount Charleston saw a foot of snow.
Dec. 17, 2008
Las Vegas officially recorded 3.6 inches of snow on this December day, while parts of the valley saw 10 inches.
National Weather Service meterologist Chris Stachelski said that it was “the most snow we’ve had in Las Vegas in almost 30 years.”
The storm brought 11 inches to Mount Charleston and led the Clark County School District to close all schools.
It was the most snow the valley had seen since since 1979. Despite some snow in the valley in 2019, no storm since has been able to top the snowfall of 2008.