Gusty winds, blowing dust sweep through Vegas area

KEN RITTER Associated Press Published:

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Gusty dry winds clocked as high as 77 mph at Red Rock Canyon and 60 mph near the Las Vegas Strip swept through southern Nevada on Tuesday, causing scattered power outages, uprooting trees, pulling roofs and awnings from buildings and delaying flights.

But beneath a fog-like pall of dust, no injuries or widespread damage was reported, said fire, police, casino and officials at McCarran International Airport.

NV Energy crews were working to restore power to about 4,000 electricity customers in neighborhoods stretching from the California state line near Jean to downtown Las Vegas, company spokeswoman Jennifer Schuricht said.

The National Weather Service warned that gusts could reach 70 mph before a cold front pushes through late Tuesday.

Temperatures in the mid-70s began to drop during the morning, and the weather service said temperatures would bottom out overnight in the mid-40s.

As the winds howled, forecaster Jerome Jacques said some weather monitors were blown over.

At McCarran, spokeswoman Candice Seeley said some arrivals and departures were delayed more than 30 minutes and tour helicopter flights were grounded.

Clark County firefighters responded to several calls of uprooted trees and damaged roofs, county spokesman Dan Kulin said. A sheet metal roof nearly blew off a building in one Las Vegas neighborhood, police Officer Laura Meltzer said.

Winds were strongest at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area about 15 miles west of Las Vegas, while a tableau of determination unfolded little after 3 p.m. downtown. An awning the size of a passenger van blew off a law office building and wedged against a tree. Building owner Brad Hofland, 47, of Las Vegas, struggled with a passer-by and a handyman amid broken light bulb glass to keep the canopy from sliding into the street.

The trio succeeded, and wrestled it into a nearby garage.

The weather service predicted gusty winds would remain overnight, with a chance of showers in Las Vegas and the possibility of snow in higher elevations and surrounding mountains.

Winds were expected to diminish over the next two days, with high temperatures just above 50 on Wednesday and into the 60s on Thursday.

___

Associated Press writer Oskar Garcia contributed to this report.