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2,000 homes without power; no time estimate on full service return

A bolt of lightning hits a tall residential building near the Stratosphere during the thunderstorm Friday night. (Richard Brian)
A bolt of lightning hits a tall residential building near the Stratosphere during the thunderstorm Friday night. (Richard Brian)
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Updated: 7/20/2013 4:25 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3.com) -- An estimated 2,000 NV Energy customers who lost power during a thunderstorm Friday evening remain without power this afternoon.

An NV Energy spokeswoman said the outages are scattered across the Las Vegas Valley and she did not have an estimated time when all power might be restored.

The thunderstorm that swept through the valley about 7:30 p.m. set a rainfall record, causing flooding and power outages, setting a house on fire and displacing some residents of an apartment complex.

Torrential rain and 70 mph gusts whipped much of the community for more than an hour as it moved from the northeast to the southwest with heavy winds and more than 700 lightning strikes.

The storm dumped an average of 0.4 inches of rain across the valley, with some areas receiving up to an inch, National Weather Service meteorologist Todd Lericos said. Flash flood warnings were in effect in different parts of the valley from before 7 p.m. until at least 11:45 p.m.

The official weather station, McCarran International Airport, received 0.22 inches of rain, setting a record for July 19, the National Weather Service said. The previous record was 0.17 inches, set in 1951.

The downpour left the valley scrambling.

An area roughly bordered by Stewart and Washington avenues and Eastern and Nellis boulevards in the northeast part of the valley was hit hardest.

The biggest problem appeared to be at the Atrium Garden Condos at 3516 Folage Drive near Washington Avenue and Pecos Road in northeast Las Vegas. The storm snapped trees in half with some trees falling onto 12 apartment units, Las Vegas Fire and Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said. Gas and displaced 40 to 50 people from their homes and power was shut off until damage could be repaired and the trees removed.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center at Desert Pine High School for the displaced residents. School buses arrived about 10:50 a.m. to transport the evacuees, Szymanski said. About 20 residents chose to relocate to the shelter, according to Lloyd Ziel of the Red Cross. No one was injured in the incident.

Ziel said the shelter remains open today for area residents.

"I hear the utilities are still out so this may go on for another day or two," Ziel said late Saturday morning.

A Henderson home near Anthem Parkway and Somersworth Drive caught fire about 8:50 p.m. after a lightning bolt struck it, Henderson Fire Battalion Chief Scott Satterlee said. Henderson fire arrived to find light smoke coming from the roof, and quickly extinguished the fire. The fire caused about $5,000 in damage to the home, but no one was injured, Satterlee said.

Meanwhile, there were 15 power outages scattered throughout the valley, said NV Energy spokeswoman Kelley Mulroy. The utility later tweeted that 33,000 customers were without power. Many areas had power restored by 11 p.m.

The Clark County Fire Department assisted motorists who stalled in water at Desert Inn and Mojave roads, about three miles east of the Strip, fire officials said.

Gilley's Saloon at Treasure Island had a major leak during the storm. Water cascaded onto the dance floor. However, there was apparently no structural damage to the building. Michelle Knoll, Treasure Island's vice president of communications, said the restaurant would open as scheduled at 11 a.m. Saturday.

"There was no structural damage," said Knoll. "We had several bad leaks on the dance floor."

A YouTube video shows water pouring from the ceiling of the bar onto the dance floor.

At another resort, standing water was reported on the casino floor at Caesars Palace, where gamblers were forced to scatter to avoid getting wet.

Szymanski said there were numerous other calls for help due to down wires and fallen trees.

The storm began near Nellis Air Force Base and worked its way southwest along the Interstate 15 corridor, Lericos said. Mount Charleston did not receive any rain, but few areas inside the valley were spared.

Metro Police said flooding impeded traffic at the intersections of Sahara and Burnham avenues, Maryland Parkway and Sierra Vista Drive, Valley View Boulevard and Reno Avenue and Lake Mead and Lamb boulevards, in addition to minor flooding throughout the region.

While the majority of Friday's storm was over before 10 p.m., the risk of dangerous weather this weekend isn't over. The Weather Service has also issued a flash flood watch from Sunday afternoon through Monday evening, when thunderstorms may return and bring flooding to the region again.

There is a 30 percent chance for thunderstorms on today and Sunday,  meteorologists said.

That likelihood doubles on Saturday for Mount Charleston. U.S. Forest Service officials cautioned visitors of flash floods in the area in the case of a thunderstorm. A wildfire that charred 28,000 acres of forest and vegetation makes the area more susceptible to flooding, said Jon Kohn, public information officer for the incident command team.
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