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Las Vegas declares state of emergency ahead of Tropical Storm Hilary's impact

Clark County, Nevada, declared a state of emergency Sunday ahead of Tropical Storm Hilary's impact. The storm is expected to bring heavy rain and strong winds across the Las Vegas area.

The county, which has jurisdiction over the tourist hotspot known as the Las Vegas Strip, said it declared the emergency "to ensure additional resources are available should they be needed."

Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo later Sunday also declared a state of emergency, noting that forecasts predicted the storm's heavy rain would exceed the average total rainfall southern Nevada receives in a whole year. 

"It's important that our residents and visitors are aware of the serious dangers posed by flash flooding as a result of the storm surge that is expected to occur this weekend in our region," Clark County Commission chairman Jim Gibson said on social media.

Local officials are warning people not to drive on roads and to stay away from recreational areas. Several public parks have announced that they will remain closed until at least Monday.

Although remnants from tropical systems have impacted Nevada before, there is no record of a tropical storm having passed into the state, according to Dr. Matt Sitkowski, The Weather Channel's science editor-in-chief.

"Tropical rainfall rates can exceed 1 inch in an hour. Even if it only rains for a short time, a lot of rain quickly falls and the desert soil typically does not do a good job at absorbing the water," Sitkowski told CBS News. "This can lead to flash flooding. Stay away from rushing water and do not drive through water-covered roads."

Residents should also be cautious of normally dry washes and low-water crossings, as they can pose life-threatening hazards during heavy rain, officials warn. 

"We advise the public to please take heed of the warnings to not to drive through flooded roads or around barricades and to stay home from recreational areas like Red Rock, Lake Mead and Mount Charleston where roads and trails could wash out with little notice," Gibson said.

Visit the National Weather Service's official website for the most up-to-date weather information:

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