Avalanche Advisory Issued for Mt. Charleston
Clark County today issued an avalanche advisory for the Kyle Canyon area of Mt. Charleston due to the accumulating snowpack.
Because of the potential threat of avalanche, those in the area are advised to exercise extreme caution and to evacuate. Public safety officials are also urging the public not to attempt to visit Kyle Canyon due to the avalanche threat and power outages on the mountain.
The hotel at the bottom of Kyle Canyon is not affected by the advisory and remains open. However, Kyle and Lee Canyon roads and Deer Creek Highway remain closed to non-residents and those without business on the mountain.
County officials made the decision to issue the warning after consulting with representatives of the Las Vegas Ski Resort, which regularly conducts mitigation in the form of creating controlled avalanches at the resort.
Meanwhile, an evacuation center is being set up by the American Red Cross for Mt. Charleston residents at Bilbray Elementary School, located in northwest Las Vegas. The center is expected to open at 4 p.m. Temporary shelter for residents’ pets also will be made available at the school.
Anyone caught in an avalanche should “try to maintain an air pocket in front of your face using your arms and hands, punching in the snow,” according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. “When an avalanche finally stops, you may have only a few seconds before the snow sets up and hardens. Many avalanche deaths are caused by suffocation, so creating an air space is one of the most critical things you can do. Also, take a deep breath to expand your chest and hold it; otherwise, you may not be able to breathe after the snow sets. To preserve air space, yell or make noise only when rescuers are near you. Snow is such a good insulator they probably will not hear you until they are practically on top of you. Above all, do not panic. Keeping your breathing steady will help preserve your air space and extend your survival chances. If you remain calm, your body will be better able to conserve energy.”
On Tuesday, Clark County Manager Virginia Valentine issued a declaration of emergency to deal with threats to public safety from the storms and flooding. The County set up an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate emergency response activities at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas.
“Clark County has issued an emergency declaration to help the community cope with widespread impacts from this incident,” said Valentine. “With a declaration in place, we can call upon other public entities for assistance, including the state of Nevada and the federal government, to get resources as quickly as possible to our residents.”
The declaration of emergency allows Clark County to speed up the process of purchasing and staging resources to deal with related emergencies and call upon other public entities for emergency assistance.
The declaration states that the flooding “poses a serious threat to health and safety as well as property of the residents in Clark County.” It also states, “Northeast Clark County, which includes Moapa Valley, Moapa and Bunkerville are being significantly impacted by rising river waters. There are also snow conditions which have resulted in power outages likely for several days on Mt. Charleston and reducing available resource capacity. First response and evacuation are high priorities for both Northeast Clark County and Mt. Charleston.”
Valentine’s proclamation indicates that “a state of emergency does exist due to conditions of peril arising from flooding and other weather-related events.”
“The cooperation of the residents and state, County and power company officials has been tremendous,” said Commissioner Larry Brown, whose District C includes Mt. Charleston.
Meanwhile, voluntary evacuations remain in effect in parts of Mesquite near the Virgin River as heavy rain continues to impact the lower elevations in Clark County causing some flooding. Throughout yesterday, dozens of people helped pile sandbags along low-lying areas.
“We can all be proud that we live in such a great community that pulls together in times of need,” said Commissioner Tom Collins, whose District B includes a large portion of Northeast Clark County, including most of Mesquite. “The preparation, cooperation and coordination of the many government agencies and many, many volunteers has been tremendous.”
“Whether they were filling sandbags or making sure their neighbors knew what was going on, the community has really pulled together to help each other through this storm,” said Commissioner Steve Sisolak, whose District A also includes part of Mesquite. “I am proud to be a part of such a caring and thoughtful community.”
Meanwhile, water levels in the Virgin and Muddy riivers are being closely monitored. Weather Service developments may be tracked at www.weather.gov/lasvegas.
Emergency managers offer the following flood-safety advice:
- Never drive across flooded roadways or around barricades. Most flash flood deaths occur in automobiles. If you encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and take another route.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flash floods. Only a few inches of floodwater can wash your car off the road.
- Do not let children or pets play near flood control channels or detention basins.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle near washes or channels.
- Check the Regional Flood Control District’s Web site at www.regionalflood.org for real time rainfall information at more than 165 locations throughout Clark County. The site also includes current weather information.
- Move to higher ground. Be aware of drainage channels and other areas known to flood suddenly.
- Secure your home. If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
Emergency mangers say the three key steps to emergency preparedness for citizens are to make a kit, create a plan, and be informed. These steps are summarized below:
- Get a disaster supply kit. The kit should contain items for you and your family's basic needs for at least three days, including food and water. A week's worth of supplies is even better. Plan for your family's unique needs such as supplies for infants, medically fragile, and pets.
- Create an emergency plan. Family members may not be together when a disaster strikes, so it's important to plan in advance how you will connect with one another. Choose a primary and secondary meeting place in case an emergency impacts your home or neighborhood, and designate an out-of-state contact for family members to call in the event they are separated. In an emergency situation, it's often easier to call out-of-state than within an affected area.
- Be informed. In an emergency, stay tuned to your radio or TV for instructions and information. Have a hand-powered radio on hand in case of a power outage. Battery-operated radios are only as good as the freshness of your battery supply.
The County’s Office of Emergency Management has more information about preparedness on its Web site at www.ClarkCountyNV.gov. Additional Internet resources include the American Red Cross, www.redcross.org; the Federal Emergency Management Agency, www.Ready.gov; and the Southern Nevada Health District, www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org.
Clark County is a dynamic and innovative organization dedicated to providing top-quality service with integrity, respect and accountability. With jurisdiction over the world-famous Las Vegas Strip and covering an area the size of New Jersey, Clark is the nation’s 14th-largest county and provides extensive regional services to more than 2 million citizens and 40 million visitors a year. Included are the nation’s 7th-busiest airport, air quality compliance, social services and the state’s largest public hospital, University Medical Center. The county also provides municipal services that are traditionally provided by cities to almost 900,000 residents in the unincorporated area. Those include fire protection, roads and other public works, parks and recreation, and planning and development.