Voluntary evacuation notice for Mt. Charleston communities due to avalanche risk

A voluntary evacuation notice has been announced by Clark County for the Kyle and Lee Canyon areas of Mt. Charleston due to the risk of avalanches from recent snowfall.

A reported 58 inches has fallen at the Kyle Canyon Fire Station since January 18. The Lee Canyon Ski Area reports a depth of 94 inches of snow as of Monday this week.

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“The recent accumulation of snowfall has put Mount Charleston at high risk for avalanches,” said Clark County Deputy Fire Chief John Steinbeck, who oversees the county’s Office of Emergency Management.

Conditions are being monitored by local, state and federal officials to determine if additional precautions should be taken.

Metro and Nevada Highway Patrol monitor traffic congestion and road conditions closely in both canyons, and motorists can expect temporary closures along Nevada State Routes 156 (Lee Canyon Road), 157 (Kyle Canyon Road) and 158 (Deer Creek Road) to regulate safe access.

“We will continue to monitoring conditions and will advise the public of any changes in the threat or activity level. At this time, we are taking steps to make the public aware of the situation so residents and visitors can make the best decisions for themselves," said Steinbeck.

The Southern Nevada Chapter of the American Red Cross will open a shelter for Mt. Charleston residents who may want to self-evacuate due to the avalanche risk on the mountain.

The shelter is located at the YMCA Centennial Hills Community Center, located at 6601 N. Buffalo Drive.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Clark County firefighters and others will be going door to door, Wednesday morning to advise residents in Kyle and Lee Canyons of the voluntary evacuation notice.

Visitors are encouraged to check driving conditions, chain requirements, and road closures before traveling to the mountain. For real-time road information, dial 511 within Nevada, 1-877-NV-ROADS (1-877-687-6237) outside of Nevada.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, any terrain with a slope steeper than 30 degrees may be prone to avalanches. The presence of people, new snow, and the wind can trigger avalanches.

The following are a few of the warning signs of unstable snow and possible avalanches:

• You see an avalanche happen or see evidence of previous slides.

• Cracks form in the snow around your feet or skis.

• The ground feels hollow underfoot.

• You hear a "whumping" sound as you walk, which indicates that the snow is settling and a

slab might release.

• Significant warming or rapidly increasing temperatures.

Recommended safety tips under avalanche advisory conditions include having a disaster supply kit on hand with food, water, and any supplies needed for infants, medically fragile family members and pets. It also is important to wear appropriate outdoor clothing and to carry supplies with you such as tire chains/tow strap, cell phone, flashlight, ice scraper, snow shovel, jumper cables, blankets and a first aid kit.

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