2014 New Year's Eve Winter Wonderland - Laughlin, Nevada
LAUGHLIN, NEV.– New Year’s Eve 2014. Remember that day. It will go down as the first official day that the National Weather Service has ever recorded measurable snowfall in this town on the banks of the Colorado River. The weather service in Las Vegas has been ‘officially’ keeping track of Laughlin weather since 1977.
Snow began falling in Laughlin shortly after 4 a.m. (PST) and has remained steady the entire day, turning the Tri-State area into an unusually white winter wonderland. Like all things, however, the snow will not keep falling. It is expected to end by early this evening as the winter storm moves to the northeast.
While the NWS was predicting the winter storm to produce snow in southern Nevada and northern Arizona, their models showed the snow level would drop no lower than 2,000 feet– expecting it to only provide a ring of snow along the mountains around the Colorado River valley, but nothing in the valley itself.
Their models were wrong.
Meteorologists have been caught off guard by all the snow falling in Laughlin, Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City, but they have a good explanation.
“We certainly didn’t expect that,” said NWS meteorologist Stan Czyzyk. “It’s quite a bit colder than we projected.”
Czyzyk said, a combination of already dry air and extremely high winds from the north, helped lower the ground temperature to accommodate the snow. The ground and the air above it has to be at or below 32 degrees for snow to fall.
“We’ve had snow fall in Laughlin in the past, but nothing measurable,” he said. “It never stuck to the ground because there was always too much moisture.”
“It was kind of a double whammy for you guys,” he continued, “but looking at the photos from Facebook, I think everyone down there is enjoying the snow.”
Czyzyk said, he and others on the NWS staff in Las Vegas have poured over years of data to determine when the last measureable snowfall was recorded in Laughlin. As it turns out, there has never before been a storm that produced measurable snowfall in Laughlin in the 37 years the National Weather Service has been keeping records on Laughlin.
The unexpected snowfall has created some dangerous conditions for motorists. As you might expect, most Bullhead City and Laughlin residents are a little rusty on their winter weather driving skills. There have been several fender benders reported by local agencies.
The California Highway Patrol closed U.S. 95, north to the Nevada state line.
Las Vegas Metro in Laughlin reports a lot of accidents in and around town. Since so many officers travel to and from Las Vegas, Metro closed its substation in Laughlin at 1 p.m. so that employees could get back home safely before driving conditions get worse.
Highway 68 was closed just east of the Bullhead City limits until the snow stops falling.