Winter storms bring rare snowfall to Las Vegas and Los Angeles

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Authorities closed portions of main routes from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and Phoenix because of snow, ice and limited visibility

February storms have brought rare snowfall to the United States’ south-west this week, covering the Las Vegas Strip and parts of Los Angeles with a thin layer of snow.

In Nevada, the storm dusted casino marquees and prompted revelers to erect a snowman near the celebrated “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Some suburban foothill areas were pillowy white after getting several inches of snow.

The National Weather Service reported the first significant snowfall at Las Vegas’s McCarran international airport in a decade, with 0.8in (2 cm) falling by Thursday afternoon.

Though the Associated Press initially reported the weather event as “the first event of its kind since record keeping started back in 1937”, that claim was later disputed by meteorologists.

The meteorologist Chris Outler said it was much less than the 3.6in (9.1cm) recorded at the airport on 17 December 2008.

The snow snarled flights at the airport and traffic on highways.

“We don’t have snowplows,” the airport spokeswoman Christine Crews said as she tallied about 100 flight cancellations due to snow and ice. “But we have airfield maintenance vehicles and sweepers ready to go.”

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