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Las Vegas to roll dice with cold New Year’s Eve weather

December 31, 2014

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Fireworks coordinator Phil Grucci has a request of Mother Nature in this city of glitzy shows: If you’re going to let it snow, let it snow at just the right moment, like right before midnight when his show launches from the Las Vegas Strip.

Grucci, president and creative director of Fireworks by Grucci, stood atop the Treasure Island casino-hotel on the Strip on Tuesday, one of seven hotel rooftops where 70 workers have been readying the displays since the day after Christmas.

And if it’s going to snow, it would be great if the heavens put a stop to it shortly after the show ends, he said.

Like large swaths of the western U.S., Las Vegas is bracing for unusually cold weather as 2014 ends and 2015 starts. The low in the city is forecast to be 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), with the possibility of snow flurries.

Tourists walking around Treasure Island casino on Tuesday took the cold snap in stride, especially those from the Midwest and Northwest.

“I think we brought the snow from Ohio,” said Lisa Richey, 38, who along with her sister and longtime friend came prepared for the chilly holiday.

Outside the casino, people walked past in coats with hands shoved deep into pockets, like Marcio Berri, 26, of Brazil.

“Who would expect snowing in Vegas?” Berri said.

He said he’d likely buy some new scarves and gloves before standing outside on the Strip with the masses to watch the New Year’s Eve show.

“We’re gonna be in the street. It doesn’t matter how cold it is,” he said.

At the Monte Carlo casino-hotel, an outdoor bar will not only offer adult beverages, but also coffee and hot chocolate, too, spiked or not.

Other parts of the West expect to feel the chill New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

In Pasadena, California, the thousands of people who camp overnight or gather early to watch the annual Rose Parade will face an icy New Year’s morning as temperatures fall near or below freezing across much of southwest California, the National Weather Service said. Temperatures in parts of northern New Mexico on Tuesday dipped below zero F (minus 18 C), as an Artic front moved across the state, bringing with it freezing temperatures and dangerous driving conditions. In eastern Washington state, forecasters expect lows of 3 to 9 degrees F (minus 13 to minus 16 C), and highs Wednesday won’t get out of the teens F (minus 10 to minus 7 C).

In Las Vegas, National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Stachelski said that if it snows, it’ll be fairly light on the Strip New Year’s Eve morning and into the afternoon, but could be done altogether by 7 p.m. or so.

Forecasts in Las Vegas pinned the area’s chances on New Year’s Eve snow whether it’s a light dusting or more, first at 70 percent and later at 60 percent.

Even with that level of confidence, snowball fights on the Strip are far from a sure bet.

The unusual weather is part of a cold and “somewhat moist” storm that started moving south across California into the Mojave Desert and Las Vegas, bringing snow to parts of northern Arizona and Utah, according to the weather service.

Stachelski said the storm would start turning Tuesday night, bypassing most of Nevada, with the exception of the southern tip, and heading toward Arizona and New Mexico instead.

Some 340,000 people are expected to pack the Strip and Las Vegas’ downtown Fremont area for festivities.

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