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Las Vegas’ odd 2019 weather lingers with record-low high temp

Updated May 23, 2019 - 11:21 pm

Five days of snow in February. A week in late May with lows in the 50s. A year’s worth of rain in five months.

Go home, Mother Nature. You’re drunk.

Las Vegas has seen some strange weather so far in 2019, with colder, wetter conditions than people are used to in one of North America’s hottest, driest cities.

“It’s definitely been a little peculiar,” said meteorologist Chris Outler of the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. “We’ve had a lot of rain events, and it’s been cooler than normal.”

That pattern continued this week, with daily average temperatures 8 to 15 degrees below normal and three more days of rain at the valley’s official weather station at McCarran International Airport.

The average high for May 22 in Las Vegas is 91 degrees. On Wednesday we topped out at 67, 7 degrees cooler than the previous record low high temperature for the date.

The average low temperature for May 22 is 67.

The average annual rainfall in Las Vegas is 4.19 inches. We pushed past that total on May 9.

Then there was the snow, which punctuated the fifth wettest February on record and the coldest February Las Vegas has seen since 1985.

Outler said the flakes that fell on McCarran on Feb. 10 marked the first snow at the airport since December 2008, and it was only the beginning. More of the white stuff fell on Feb. 17, 18, 20 and 21, a new record for snow days in the month of February.

The weather is being credited at least in part for a sharp decrease in water consumption during the first quarter of 2019.

Colby Pellegrino, director of water resources for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said the community used about 20 percent less water from January through March than it did during the same three months in 2018.

That’s a significant change, she said, but it came during the time of year when water demand is already at its lowest.

The authority recently rolled out a more aggressive advertising effort to remind residents to follow seasonal watering restrictions and shut off their irrigation systems when it rains. The campaign includes radio, television and internet spots and postcards mailed to homes valleywide. One of the new ads features Vegas Golden Knights tough guy Ryan Reaves cheerfully slamming irresponsible water users into walls and through windows.

“It’s all part of a strategy to double down on conservation right now,” Pellegrino said.

The effort appears to be paying off.

As of Tuesday, the Las Vegas Valley Water District had seen a 6 percent drop in water deliveries over the same period last year. District spokesman Bronson Mack said the weather and the renewed public outreach are the obvious reasons why.

“While we are in summer watering schedule, many homeowners have not yet increased their watering to six days. Much like me, they are still watering only three days or less,” Mack said in an email. “Couple that with the fact evaporative cooling systems throughout the valley aren’t having to run as long or as hard, (and) community water use is down.”

Of course, none of the weird weather so far can be used to predict what we might see during the rest of 2019.

There’s no telling what the future will bring, though Outler said the outlook for Las Vegas from the weather service’s Climate Prediction Center calls for a warmer than usual summer, with a slight chance of wetter than normal conditions throughout the rest of the year.

Outler said there is one thing we can already definitively say about 2019: “If it doesn’t rain another drop, we’ll still be above average for the year,” he said. “You can rest easy there.”

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

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