One Reason Why Las Vegas is the Least Survivable Big City in North America

April 19, 2012

Here’s one reason why Las Vegas is the Least Survivable Big City in North America – drought.

This isn’t exactly “political” – (the climate is only “political” to those Global Warming Fanatics), but it is about Nevada.

As this NOAA map shows (, Nevada is ground-zero for a major short-term drought.  However, Nevada is been suffering a drought for most of the past 15 years.  Our normal rainfall is 4.5 inches a year – which is paltry by most standards.  Before moving to Las Vegas, I lived in Palm Beach, Florida, and we often got more than 4.5 inches of rain in a single storm (and I’m not talking “hurricane” here – just a normal summer rainstorm) – in fact, I recall one storm which dropped 7 inches on us in a single night … that’s nearly two years of Las Vegas’ average rainfall.  However, for the past 15 years, we’ve been averaging about half that – 2.5 inches per year.

This is most notable in the low snow-pack in western Colorado – the watershed for the Colorado River – which is what fills Lake Mead, where Las Vegas gets most of its water (as do big chunks of Utah, Arizona and Southern California, including Los Angeles).  As photos of Lake Mead show (search Google for Lake Mead, then go to illustrations – you’ll see photos of how badly the lake’s level has fallen, plus a graph showing average lake levels over the past 80 years), Lake Mead is nearly 160 feet down from its normal water level.  This is becoming a crisis for Las Vegas, because our water intake pipes in Lake Mead were built to be about 200 feet below normal water level – if we get below those intakes, no water, and without water, Las Vegas becomes uninhabitable.

As you can see in the Google illustrations graph, while Lake Mead has had two other sharp drops in level in its 80-plus year history, none of those has been as drawn-out or sustained.  This is not a “typical” drought – but a history-making long-term drought that makes the Great Depression’s “Dust Bowl” look like a passing fad by comparison.  the only difference are these:  First, this is a desert, and we’re used to “dry,” and second, the city’s water comes from a lake, which so far still delivers, though that could change very quickly.  And, of course, we’re not an agricultural region, so there’s no hoard of drought-destroyed farmers fleeing from Las Vegas.  Still, if the drought continues, Las Vegas may have to consider evacuating – and perhaps sooner than anyone thinks.

Las Vegas as a ghost town – that would have political implications – 70 percent of Nevada’s population lives in Las Vegas valley, and if it becomes uninhabitable, Nevada will have the smallest population in America.

Las Vegas is the least-survivable big city in America, and this isn’t the last blog I plan to write about what risks America’s Adult Playground faces, and I’ll be sure to include what that means for Nevada’s Conservatives …

Ned Barnett – Nevada Conservative



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