VEGAS MYTHS BUSTED: Vegas Heat Melts Traffic Lights

Estimated read time 3 min read

In the midst of this weekend’s 110-degree Las Vegas heat, a photo of a melting traffic light made the social media rounds.

Billy Clark and tens of thousands of other social media users believed that this traffic light melted in the brutal Las Vegas heat this weekend. (Image: Facebook)

The photo was posted on June 6 by the Facebook group Sin City Las Vegas Locals, where it earned 33,000 likes and 2,500 comments.

Here are some of those comments:

A Facebook page called Let’s Explain, which categorizes itself as a science and tech authority, stepped in to resolve exactly what happened.

Beneath a copy of the photo, it explained that “traffic light covers are typically made of plastic, which can warp or melt when exposed to high temperatures.” The post also informed its readers that direct sunlight, the added heat absorption of darker colors, and poor ventilation inside the signal housing probably played roles in the mishap.

Except that modern traffic light enclosures aren’t made of plastic. In Las Vegas and everywhere else in the US, they’re made of aluminum alloys designed to resist an average temperature of 600°F.

The hottest temperature ever recorded in Las Vegas was 118°F. It was set on June 26, 1931 and most recently tied on July 10, 2021. Direct sun does heat dark-colored objects to higher temperatures than the surrounding air, but never even remotely close to six times hotter.

Also, that explanation doesn’t cover how — even if this somehow could have resulted from air temperature and/or direct sunlight — one side of the traffic light melted while the other side didn’t.

Simone Lunghi poses with the burned traffic light in Milan. (Image: Instagram)

Shedding Light

The traffic light shown in the photo is not from Las Vegas. It melted in Italy due to the heat from a scooter that burst into flames below it on July 25, 2022, according to Italy’s Open Online.

The fire occurred at the intersection of Viale Regina Margherita and Via Bergamo in Milan.

We know because Instagram user Simone Lunghi posted a video of himself posing with the damaged light four days later.

In defense of Sin City Las Vegas Locals, it never directly claimed that the photo represented a traffic light that melted from the Las Vegas heat. The group’s caption merely read “Vegas Summer has arrived,” punctuated by a sun emoji.

We’ve warned you, dozens and dozens times, not to believe everything you read on the internet, kids. But we’re secretly glad that you never listen, since that leaves plenty more Vegas myths for us to bust.

Look for “Vegas Myths Busted” every Monday on Casino.org. Click here to read previously busted Vegas myths. Got a suggestion for a Vegas myth that needs busting? Email corey@casino.org.

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