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Las Vegas Soaked by City's Biggest Storm in 3 Years

November 03, 1987|Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — The most rainfall in more than three years flooded city streets Monday and caused part of a ceiling in the federal courthouse to collapse, authorities said.

The National Weather Service recorded 0.80 of an inch of rain at McCarran International Airport by 4 p.m. Monday--the most rain in one day since a thunderstorm dumped 1.36 inches on the area July 28, 1984. The rain was a continuation of a storm that moved in from California on Saturday and had poured a total of 1.76 inches of moisture into the area.

The most serious damage was at the federal building, where the rain caused a section of the 20-foot-high ceiling of the federal courthouse to collapse on the bench of U.S. District Judge Philip Pro. However, the courtroom was empty because of the noon recess.

"Thank the good Lord the judge wasn't on the bench," Court Clerk Carol FitzGerald said. "He could have been seriously hurt."

The rain also damaged part of the offices of U.S. Magistrate Elliot Sattler and the U.S. marshal's office in the building, FitzGerald said.

City spokeswoman Ginnie McIlvaine said the city set up a command center to deal with rain-related problems, which included several flooded businesses and numerous closed streets. She said the city was providing sand and shovels so owners could fill sandbags to protect their businesses or residences.

Metropolitan police reported numerous minor accidents as drivers attempted to make their way through flooded streets, where water stood as deep as three feet.

The weather service said the rain was expected to continue through Friday. The recent moisture has increased the rainfall total so far this year in Las Vegas to 5.41 inches, 1.95 inches above normal.

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