The National Weather Service now predicts an 80% chance of showers in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve. That’s when 400K people are expected to jam the Las Vegas Strip to watch more than 11K fireworks launch from the rooftops of eight Strip casino hotels. It’s dubbed “America’s Party 2023.”
A separate fireworks display featuring 150 drones illuminating the sky in a countdown to midnight is also scheduled for the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas.
It’s not the rain posing the biggest threat to this year’s festivities, however. Michael Mack, a spokesperson for Las Vegas Events, told the Associated Press that “wind is the thing we watch out for.”
A wind threshold of 15 mph plays a part each year in the decision to launch, delay, or cancel the fireworks. While the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Las Vegas have launched before when winds seemed like they might exceed 15 mph, according to the National Weather Service, gusts on Saturday are expected to reach up to 30 mph.
Why Wind is Bad
A light wind is good for fireworks displays since it helps remove the smoke and improve visibility. But heavy wind can send fireworks in unpredictable directions.
While Grucci – the family-owned company that produces the fireworks in Las Vegas – has made significant advances over the decades in improving safety – heavy winds make it harder to prevent the rare fires ignited by burning debris. Also, if a firework misfires, it’s important to have a good idea of where it will land, since “duds” can still ignite after they hit the ground.
According to Steven Ackerman and Jonathan Martin of the UW-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, pyrotechnics are more difficult to light during rainy conditions, but shows can proceed safely in anything less than a torrential downpour.
If Clark County officials pull the plug on the annual eight-minute fireworks show, it would be the first weather-related cancellation in the event’s 22-year history. The show was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Strip resorts set to launch “America’s Party 2023” fireworks include the MGM Grand, Aria, Planet Hollywood, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, the Venetian, Resorts World, and the Strat.
Whatever the weather, the Strip will be closed off to vehicles by 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and reopen around 2 a.m. Sunday. And when the party ends, 16 street-sweeping trucks will be deployed up and down Las Vegas Boulevard to collect an estimated 12 tons of trash left behind by revelers on the Strip and downtown.
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