VIDEO VAULT: Las Vegas' worst wind storm caused millions of dollars of damage in 1989
LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) —
Newcomers to Las Vegas may have been surprised at just how much damage was caused by last week's wind storm, but the area has endured much worse. The highest winds ever recorded here were in 1989. The heaviest damage was at McCarran airport, which sustained millions of dollars’ worth of destruction.
At the time the Circus-Circus Corporation -- long before its merger with MGM -- had a large hangar with numerous aircraft located on the northwest corner of McCarran Field. The winds peeled back the roof and lifted one corporate just on top of another.
The damage was widespread. Smaller airplanes were upside down and smashed into one another across the airport. In one case, a plane became airborne, hopped the chain link fence and crashed into the adjacent desert.
It was August 8, 1989 when the highest winds ever recorded in Las Vegas came through as a part of a summer storm cell, with gusts around McCarran at 90 miles an hour.
A couple of Scenic Airlines planes crashed into one another, with kitty litter used to soak up the fuel.
People who worked at the airport that day were shocked by the violence of the storm
“It's just a lot of crashing and booming,” said McCarran ramp worker Mike McNultey. “A lot of lightning. It got real dark. It rained real hard for about five minutes. And the wind came up, real hard gusts. And then it was gone.”
Electricity was lost to several neighborhoods around the valley. The reason why was evident from the predecessor to Sky-3, with power poles snapped and blown over on their sides.
Trees gave way to the winds as well. One house near the present day Stratosphere had a branch puncture the ceiling.
At paradise and Sahara, an outdoor advertising billboard finally gave away to the ferocity of Mother Nature, toppling onto the roof of Dennis Mullen's print shop next door. Mullen was working there at the time and felt lucky to be alive.
“I was standing over here,” a shaken Mullen told News-3. “And I just went to go to the other room. And as soon as I left and turned the corner, I heard this tremendous crash. And I didn't know what happened. I came back out and I see this whole ceiling down. And I look at the press, and it's all over the press.”
Though wind and lightning were the most memorable features of that storm, there was some street flooding as well. The actual event only lasted about twenty minutes, but Las Vegas took months to recover.