coldest new year Las Vegas
© Leila NavidiRobert Inga, a pyrotechnician with Fireworks by Grucci, sets up New Year’s Eve fireworks and covers them with plastic on the roof of Treasure Island Thursday, December 30, 2010.
It's going to be a chilly start to 2011: 28 degrees in Las Vegas at midnight, if the National Weather Service's prediction is correct.

Las Vegas set a record today with the coldest high temperature ever recorded in Las Vegas on New Year's Eve: just 38 degrees. The temperature was well below the old record for the coldest high, 45 degrees set in 1975, the National Weather Service said.

The last time the high temperature reached only the 30s was during a snowstorm on Dec. 17, 2008, when the high was 39 degrees.

Overnight temperatures aren't expected to reach record lows, but "we're definitely going to be looking at very cold temperatures for an extended period," weather service meteorologist Larry Jensen said.

At 5 p.m. Friday, Jensen said some parts of the valley already were close to freezing and would stay that way for most of the night.

Forecasters are predicting a low of 27 degrees early Saturday and a high of 41 during the afternoon. The record low for Jan. 1 is 21 degrees, set in 1954.

The average low temperature for New Year's Day in Las Vegas is 36 degrees and the average high is 56 degrees, according to weather service records.

Forecasters expect temperatures in the first days of 2011 to stay below 50 degrees until at least Tuesday, with a high of 42 on Saturday, 45 on Sunday and 48 on Monday.

Skies should be clear to watch fireworks tonight, but a storm system is expected to move into the area Sunday and bring a 20 percent chance of rain late Sunday night and Monday.

In the meantime, weather officials recommend residents prepare their homes for the freeze by wrapping pipes and keeping plants and pets indoors.

Visitors and locals who plan to ring in the new year outdoors should wear warm layers of clothing and limit alcoholic beverages, the weather service said.