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Snow, cold threaten Las Vegas' New Year's Eve celebration

Las Vegas may get snow on New Year's Eve if 'potentially historic weather' whacks the Strip

A New Year’s Eve storm heading toward Las Vegas could leave as much as 3 inches of snow on the Strip, forecasters say.

Even if the snowfall is minimal, New Year’s Eve revelers in Las Vegas can expect temperatures around the freezing mark as the clock strikes midnight. Wednesday’s high in Las Vegas will be in the upper 30s. A brisk wind will make it feel even colder.

The National Weather Service on Sunday issued a winter storm watch for much of the Interstate 15 corridor through Southern California and Southern Nevada.

The watch, in effect from 4 p.m. Tuesday through 10 a.m. Thursday (New Year’s Day), could wallop Las Vegas with what the watch described as “potentially historic weather.”

The forecast calls for between a trace and 3 inches of snow at elevations above 2,000 feet. McCarran International Airport, just blocks east of Las Vegas Boulevard, is about 2,200 feet above sea level.

The chance for snow is greatest during the day on Wednesday, when many motorists will be heading from the Southland to Vegas, and on New Year’s Eve.

In its advisory, the weather service noted that mountain passes along I-15 could become clogged with snow. Mountain Pass, in San Bernardino County about 15 miles from the California-Nevada state line, is at 4,730 feet.

The weather service noted that “snow removal equipment is very limited” in places such as Las Vegas, where it seldom snows. Transportation agencies in California and Nevada maintain plowing equipment in mountainous regions.

“If an inch of snow falls at McCarran Airport, it will be the first 1-inch snow since Dec. 17, 2008 in Vegas,” the Weather Channel notes.

The National Weather Service said it would post updates online as the storm develops.

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