Heavy thunderstorms rattled Las Vegas on the afternoon of July 3, 1975, bringing unprecedented precipitation between the metropolitan area and mounts to the south, west and north. Total storm precipitation equaled or exceeded 3 inches in some areas and surface winds topped nearly 58 mph.
Sediments from erosion, transportation (e.g. vehicles) and deposition occurred throughout the flooded area. Particularly impacted were the mouth of Las Vegas Wash at Lake Mead and the Flamingo Wash at Caesars Palace Parking Lot.
Peak flows of Las Vegas Creek, Tropicana Wash, Flamingo Wash, and Las Vegas Wash were the highest ever determined.
July 3, 1975 Las Vegas Flood Facts & Figures
Time: Rainfall lasted between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
Rainfall Amount: A maximum of 3 inches of rain fell in two locations inside the Las Vegas valley, the west valley and to the north via the path of the storm as it moved out of the area.
Las Vegas Yearly Precipitation Average: The average yearly precipitation for Las Vegas is 4.17 inches. The city received nearly all of that in a matter of hours.
Estimated 1975 Population: At the time, the population of Clark County in its entirety was 351,000 while the city of Las Vegas was just under 150,000.
Damage Estimates: $4.5 million dollars ($20,732,369.89 in 2018 inflated dollar-value). Upwards of 700 automobiles parked near Caesars Palace were damaged or destroyed by the heavy floods.
Fatalities: Two City of North Las Vegas employees, Mike Williams, 30, and Richard Hunkins, 24, were swept away while directing traffic at I-15 and Craig Road.
Amounts Throughout The Valley: Only .07 inch of rain fell at McCarran Airport. A tenth of an inch fell about an east of The Strip along the Flamingo Wash itself. The southeast valley received very little rain while the higher elevated west side received heavy rain which resulted in unprecedented runoff.
From The LVRJ: Some of the cars swept away from Caesar's Palace were reportedly found miles away. Additional cars were swept away from the parking lot of the Marina Hotel. Incidentally, the parking lot at Caesar's had warnings about flash flooding in the area.
A river of water poured through a building supply store, L&H, at 311 Bonanza Rd, carrying lumber with it.
Flooding reached depths of four on west-side streets.
Momentary power outages were reported throughout the valley.
Police reported 30-40 people had to be evacuated from their townhomes due to mudflow which reached up to two feet high.
Regional Flood Control District Video
4th of July Flash Flood in Las Vegas
The #historic 4th of July weekend #flashflood began with a heavy thunderstorm in the afternoon of July 3, 1975 between Las Vegas and mountains to the west of the valley, resulting in total storm precipitation exceeding 3 inches. This flood became one of the most memorable floods as it ripped down the Flamingo Wash making its way to the Las Vegas Strip and destroying nearly 300 cars parked at Caesars Palace. Many of the vehicles were piled up at the entrance to drainage structures under Las Vegas Boulevard. The Flamingo Hilton and the Holiday Inn (now Harrah’s Las Vegas) were barely safe as the flood waters crested just inches from each resorts’ front entrance. In North Las Vegas, two men were swept away and drowned when their vehicle was hit by a wall of water at Losee and Craig Road, according to witnesses. Total damages were estimated at $4-5 million.Posted by Regional Flood Control District on Monday, July 3, 2017
A Brief Hydrological Appraisal Of The July 3-4, 1975, Flash Flood In Las Vegas Valley, Nevada
Clark County Flood Control Division Department of Public Works - as prepared cooperatively by the U.S. Geological Survey of Carson City, NVreport
Meteorological Analysis For The Las Vegas, Nevada, Flood of 3 July 1975
Prepared by Darryl Randerson, Air Resources Laboratory - Las Vegas, ERL/NOAA, Las Vegas, NV1520-049319761040719maftlv2.0.co2
1975 Time Capsule
No 1 song July 3, 1975: Love Will Keep Us Together - Captain and Tennille
No 1 Movie July 3, 1975: Jaws starring Roy Scheider & Richard Dreyfuss
No. 1 Book, July 3, 1975: The Moneychangers by Arthur Hailey
No. 1 TV Show 1975: All In The Family
Cost For 1 Gallon Of Gas: $0.57
Median Household Income in 1975: $12,686
Average New Home Cost in 1975: $48,000.00
Average New Car Cost in 1975: $3,800.00
Postage Stamp Cost in 1975: $0.13