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Climate & Environment

The Las Vegas Valley lies in a relatively high-altitude portion of the Mojave Desert, and this can sometimes result in drastic changes of temperature between seasons, and even between day and night. The Valley generally averages less than five inches (130 mm) of rain annually. Daily day-time summer temperatures in July and August typically exceed 100ーF (38ーC). Very low humidity, however, tempers the effect of these temperatures, though dehydration, heat exhaustion, and sun stroke can occur after even a limited time outdoors in the summer. The interiors of automobiles often prove deadly to small children and pets during the summer and surfaces exposed to the sun can cause first and second degree burns to unprotected skin. July and August can also be marked by "monsoon season", when moist winds from the Gulf of California soak much of the Southwestern United States. While not only raising humidity levels, these winds develop into dramatic desert thunderstorms that can sometimes cause flash flooding.

Winter season is short in Las Vegas and temperatures are mild, with winter day-time highs near 60ーF (16ーC) and winter night-time lows of about 32ーF (0ーC). Snow accumulation in the valley itself is generally uncommon, but every few years apart, the Las Vegas Valley can get snow. The mountains surrounding the valley are snow-covered during winter.

Being located in a desert valley creates issues with air quality. From the dust the wind picks up from disturbed desert surrounding the city, to the smog produced by vehicles to the pollen in the air, the valley can have some bad air days.

Pollen can be a major issue several weeks a year with counts occasionally in the 70,000 plus range. Local governments are trying to control this by banning plants that produce the most pollen.

The dust problems usually happen on very windy days, so they tend to be seasonal and of a short duration.
Smog on the other hand gets worst when there is no wind to move the air out of the valley. Also in winter it is possible to get an inversion in the valley air that actually traps any smog in the valley.

The county is working to control these problems and has shown some success over the years. The constant tightening of Federal requirements for allowable particles in the air, make the task of meeting air quality standards difficult.

The native flora does little to help the soil retain water. During the intense rains of monsoon season or (relatively) wet months of January and February, a network of dry natural channels, called washes or arroyos, carved into the valley floor allows water to flow down from the mountains and converge in the Las Vegas Wash which runs through the Clark County Wetlands Park. The wash system used to form a large natural wetlands which then flowed into the Colorado River until the construction of Hoover Dam on the Colorado River led to the creation of Lake Mead. Further development in the 1980s and 1990s made Lake Las Vegas, which required directing the Las Vegas Wash into tunnels which run under Lake Las Vegas and into Lake Mead.

The Las Vegas area gets about 300,000 acre feet (370,000,000 mウ) of water each year from Lake Mead, with credits for water it returns to the lake. The allocations were made when Nevada had a much smaller population and very little agriculture. The allocations were also made during a wet string of years, which overstated the available water in the entire watershed. As a result, precipitation that is below normal for a few years can have a major impact on the Colorado River Reservoirs.

Early Vegas depended on the aquifer which fed the springs, but the pumping of water from these caused a large drop in the water levels and ground subsidence over wide areas of the valley. Today, the aquifers are basically used to store water that is pumped from the lake during periods of low demand and pumped out during periods of high demand.





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