Snow is pretty, but with the wind and chilling temperatures, you want a place to escape from the winter weather. They say it’s always sunny in Las Vegas, but does that hold true the whole winter through?
Las Vegas isn’t entirely off the hook when it comes to a little wintery snowfall, but it isn’t a common everyday occurrence. Here’s the scoop (or snow shovel) about what’s expected in terms of snow, traveling, traffic, and all things wintery in Las Vegas.
The History of Snowfall in Las Vegas
A wintery day in 2021 brought something to the Las Vegas Valley that hadn’t been seen in a couple of years. A significant dusting of snow fell, covering roads with enough snow to make some of them, especially those in the mountains surrounding Vegas, hazardous for travel.
Normally, snow is a rare occurrence in Las Vegas, with the National Weather Service reporting an average of 0.3 inches per year in the mountain valley. Of course, most snowfall occurs higher up in the mountains that surround the city, rather than in Las Vegas itself.
As far as significant accumulations of snow in Vegas, occurrences are few and far between. In 2008, Henderson saw 3.6 inches hit the ground on a day in December. It might not be enough to warrant dragging out the snowboard, but shovels were definitely busy that day.
A much larger snowfall occurred in 1979 as Clark County Schools closed throughout the Valley, thanks to 7.4 inches of accumulation in one day on January 31. Several days in 1974 also saw an average of more than 4 inches hit the ground in an unusual weather event. Several other days in the 1930s and 1940s at least 4 inches hit the ground in a single day.
Snow at McCarran International Airport
For those accustomed to wintery weather, you might think that a little snowfall gives the locals a chance to enjoy a white, frosted landscape and watch the flakes fall. This isn’t the case for travelers looking to escape to a warmer climate, and it’s definitely not a fun time for McCarran International Airport, where they have to deal with treacherous weather conditions for incoming and outgoing flights.
In 2021, the airport reported snowfall between the hours of 2 – 7 am on a single day, setting them on alert and keeping a close eye on current conditions. The airport is the National Weather Service’s official measuring site for the area, including downtown Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Strip, the surrounding suburbs, and the mountains. The event in 1974 had the airport reporting sheets of ice covering the roads, creating hazardous conditions.
So, while there’s a good chance your weekend flight to escape to Las Vegas in the winter won’t be canceled, it’s always smart to keep an eye on what’s happening with the weather, especially if you’re traveling in December or January.
Vegas Winter Temperatures and Precipitation
In general, you’re going to typically find lots of sun and little rain in Las Vegas. Looking at weather averages, the coldest months are December and January, where the average high temp hovers in the mid to upper range of the 50s. Low temperatures typically dip into the high 30s during this season.
Winter is also the rain season for Las Vegas if you can call it that. On average, the winter months see 3-4 days of rain, while other seasons see only 1-2 days per month. The winter months also see less sun compared to any other season. Most winter months see about 240 hours of sun per month, compared to about 400 hours in the peak sun month of June.
Given its location, Las Vegas is pretty dry year-round, with light rain here and there. Still, visitors who are planning on the weather cooperating and the sun shining might rather wait to visit during the spring and summer months. But, at the end of the day, Las Vegas, Nevada never sleeps, and the party is always going, no matter the forecast or the season.
How often does Las Vegas get snow?
Snow in Las Vegas is pretty rare. The average winter temperature in Vegas is still far enough above freezing that snow really isn’t an issue. The valley might see a dusting every couple of years, or it might be decades between a significant snowfall.
Does it snow in Las Vegas in January?
Las Vegas does get precipitation in January, but it’s not very much, and it’s almost always in the form of light rain. Is it possible to see snow in Vegas in January? Yes, but it’s a rather rare sighting.
Does it snow every year in Las Vegas?
No, it doesn’t snow every year in Vegas. In fact, it’s a rare thing. Normally winters in Sin City are cooler, a touch less sunny than other times of the year, and see a slight increase in precipitation, usually in the form of rain. It snowed in 2021, but even then, it had been a couple of years since the Valley saw snow.
Don’t Plan on Bringing Your Winter Boots to Vegas
Snow happens in Vegas, but it happens infrequently enough that it’s a newsworthy event. The number of days that Vegas and the surrounding area have seen snow in the last several decades is few. If you’re planning a trip this winter, expect normal weather for the region, with the days and nights both being cooler. Still, it’s always smart to play it safe and check the forecast and maybe bring a heavier jacket, just in case.