August 8, 2008

It Was 'Crazy' Out There

Storm left stores flooded, drivers stranded, mother and son hurt by lightning


Boys play in floodwaters Thursday after a storm dumped varying amounts of rain over the southern valley.

After weeks of do-nothing clouds and teasing humidity, the valley was pounded by a storm cell Thursday that forced road closures, stranded motorists and left a Henderson boy and his mother injured by a lightning strike.

More than 3 inches of rain fell in some mountain areas, but only about 0.16 inches accumulated within the valley, the National Weather Service in Las Vegas reported.

Meteorologists at the weather service's offices experienced the brunt of the storm without some of their radar equipment, which was struck by lightning during the action.

But the heavy rain added only a few drops to the annual total, which now stands at 1.04 inches.

"Normally at this time of year we are at 2.92 inches. We are definitely below the average," said meteorologist Edan Lindamen.

The powerful storm swept across the southern part of the valley, flooding businesses and creating swift-water rescue situations for emergency responders in Henderson and elsewhere.

State Route 160 was closed for about an hour after 3.05 inches of rain fell near Mountain Springs. Backups also occurred on U.S. Highway 95 and on Boulder Highway, where some spots were under 2 feet of water and stranded motorists had to be rescued.

The storm didn't just make its mark with rising floodwaters and muddy debris.

A lightning strike in Henderson knocked a 4-year-old boy unconscious and left his mother with temporary numbness on one side of her body.

Henderson Deputy Fire Chief Steve Goble said the woman and her son were watching the rain from the front lawn of their home near Green Valley Parkway and Warm Springs Road when lightning struck nearby about 3:20 p.m.

Goble said the "ground surge" apparently knocked the boy out and caused the woman to experience some paralysis on one side of her body. But both of them "came out of it" as they were treated at the scene by paramedics, he said.

They were sent to the hospital for observation.

Henderson firefighters also rescued a 12-year-old boy from a wash near Patrick Lane and Stephanie Road. Goble said the boy was pulled from the water unharmed.

"The report was he was skateboarding down there," Goble said. "He was having a good old time, until the water came."

The Henderson Fire Department received several other reports of people in the water, but no other rescues were needed.

The storm also brought a flurry of reports of fallen trees, electrical fires and "four or five dozen stranded vehicles," Goble said. "It's been crazy."

Businesses also got caught up in the storm.

The Circle K convenience store and gas station near Tropicana Avenue and Andover Drive closed for a few hours when an inch of water crept inside. Employees said this has happened five or six times in the past as they swept about a foot of cloudy water around racks of potato chips and newspapers.

Officials with the Clark County Regional Flood Control District said their gauges reported almost 2 inches of rain falling within 30 to 40 minutes in areas near Henderson.

The weather service in Las Vegas said more storms are possible today. Conditions will start to dry out by the weekend, it said.