Good Odds for Climate Change in U.S., Vegas, Europe, Asia

12/23/2010 02:17 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The rain has pretty much stopped in the southwest. But you could probably still get pretty good odds that climate change is real -- at least in Las Vegas. And highs Thursday were unlikely to reach the 60s in either Vegas or Los Angeles.

A flash flood warning was issued in a city about gets about four inches of rain a year. Homes were evacuated as rain fell at half an inch an hour at times. A record daily rainfall total of 1.01 inches was recorded Tuesday.

Dams were threatened by heavy rains in southwestern Utah, which lost homes to flooding in 2005. A state of emergency was declared in Los Angeles County and several more counties as the cleanup began.

Next door, in California, it appeared the four horsemen of the Apocalypse were back, with some additional buddies as it remained a paradise -- with an asterisk. Boulders tumbled down canyon walls, seals and a seal lion from a zoo had to be transferred to higher ground in Laguna Beach.

The Pacific Northwest was hit by heavy rains last week. Much of Europe has been shut down by snow. Earlier this year Asia was inundated by rain-caused flood waters. Snow and ice in the Arctic and Antarctic are melting.

The ongoing California storm is even scary by local standards. Rain, floods, tidal surges, tornadoes, mudslides and snow storms. It is burying the southern Rockies in snow.

Several California counties have already been declared disaster areas though no deaths have been reported.

In Orange County, The Tonalli Martinez family was stuck in their canyon home. "In the summers, you have these beautiful days. It's pretty worth it. Then you get these days, when you're trapped in your house and you need to go to work."

A mobile phone and an alert San Bernadino County fire department saved the life of a 29-year-old woman who tried to cross a creek. Her truck was swept away. Fortunately her phone worked. She stayed in the truck and a county fireman fired a harpoon-like gun across to her vehicle. The rescuer crossed the rain-swollen river and she was brought back to safety. There is a motto here for macho SUV drivers. Don't attempt to cross waters whose depth is not known. And drive slowly.

Laguna Beach, 50 miles south of Los Angeles, had to shut down much of its downtown. Some Metrolink trains in the L.A. area were shut down. The rain reached up as far San Francisco before began to taper off.

"This is not a playground. This is no time to do extreme exports. Even six inches of water in the flood control channels is enough to wash you down the driver ... There's nobody to hear you scream," Jack Wise of the Los Angeles Fire Department told the Los Angeles Times.

Dozens of homes and businesses have been inundated by rains in Southern California.

Rainfall of nearly 19 inches was reported at Tankbark Flats near Mt. Baldy in Los Angeles County earlier this week. Downtown L.A. got 6.13 inches, nearly half a year's rainfall.

Now for the good news. With the prime holiday season already started for ski areas some ski areas got more than six feet during the week. Snowmelt is a crucial supplier of agricultural and drinking water. The same story brought big dumps to Utah and Colorado. The southwestern Colorado mountains were expected to get up to eight feet of snow by Sunday. The big problem in all mountain areas will be road closures and dangerous driving conditions. No one should got into mountain areas without checking road conditions. Tell someone where you are going and carry a mobile phone.

On Tuesday night a tow truck ran into the back of a truck carrying explosives near the Eisenhower Tunnel on Interstate 70 west of Denver. There were no injuries though both sides of the road, the main access from Denver to ski areas, was closed for several hours.