In Las Vegas, there’s a chance of hitting the jackpot. And there’s also the chance that a vortex of wind will develop poolside, blow away furniture and send hotel guests scrambling for cover.
On Friday, the latter occurred at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A video posted on TikTok showed an eddy of wind form at the foot of the pyramid, where several people appeared to get hit by flying chairs and other objects.
The vortex of wind, a type sometimes referred to as a “dust devil” or an eddy, whipped around for several seconds just a few feet from a pool, where guests watched in horror. Other guests were not so lucky. The video showed some guests lying on the ground until the winds subsided.
Melissa White, from Southern California, was lounging in a daybed when she noticed two large umbrellas fly off and land in the pool.
“Then it just kept going from there,” White said Monday. “Bags, umbrellas, lounge chairs just shot into the air. Everyone was panicking.”
The whirlwind lasted only a few seconds, but it felt longer to White, who called the event a tornado on social media and was quickly corrected by Nevada residents who tried to downplay what she saw.
“I got a lot of people telling me that they don’t get tornadoes in Nevada. To me it looked like a tornado,” White said. “Then the next day my daughter sent me the video and I said, ‘See, this is what I was talking about.’”
In the video posted by “Hollyvagabond,” the vortex lasted a few seconds, leaving pool furniture tangled on the ground and smaller debris drifting through the air.
“It was just chaos. Then it was just calm and surreal,” said White, who was about 15 yards from where the winds first picked up. “We were all just standing there after.”
White said several people appeared injured and at least one guest was carried off on a stretcher.
MGM Resorts, Luxor’s parent company, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether any people were injured.
Recorded wind gusts at Las Vegas International Airport on Friday ranged between 20 to 30 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
“Nothing overly noteworthy,” said Matt Woods, a weather service meteorologist in Las Vegas. “We get these kinds of summer winds every once in a while. They’re usually strongest around spring or winter.”
The winds that blew through the Luxor on Friday might not have been incredibly strong, but they could have been funneled through the buildings on the Strip.
“If you’ve ever stood behind the edge of a wall and the air wraps around it, it sort of makes a little vortex of wind,” Woods said. “Sometimes those spinning motions can get stronger near buildings than if you were in an open field.”
The vortex at the Luxor occurred where several buildings stand near the pools and likely helped channel the winds, Woods said.
More than five years ago, strong winds toppled four large trucks, uprooted trees and destroyed at least one casino marquee in Las Vegas. Peak winds hit 84 mph at Desert Inn Road and Highway 215 near Summerlin, a community about 20 minutes west of the Strip, according to the National Weather Service.