A powerful winter storm is clobbering the Sierra
and northern Nevada with heavy snow and high winds today, closing
schools and businesses and making travel treacherous from one end
of the state to the other. And there's still more snow in the
Winds in excess of 100 miles per hour were recorded overnight over the highest ridges of the Sierra near Lake Tahoe,
where as much as ten feet of new snow is expected at the upper
elevations by the time a series of storms is expected to move out
The potent storm churning in from the Pacific even brought a
rare snowfall to the Las Vegas Strip, with some parts of the oasis
city reporting up to two inches of snow.
Winter storm warnings continue across all of the Sierra and most
of northern Nevada into Monday.
A snow emergency has been in effect since New Year's Eve for Washoe County, Sparks and Reno.
Government offices, including Reno Municipal Court, were shut
down and workers sent home. Schools were closed in Pyramid Lake,
Virginia City and Washoe County, where students had their winter
breaks extended for two days earlier this week because of the last
Governor Kenny Guinn sent all non-essential state employees home
by noon Friday, and public safety officers urged people to stay off
By early today, the storm fueled by moist air from the Pacific
had left more than a foot of snow in some valley areas north of
Reno, and forecasters said the worst was still to come. In some
areas, snow briefly turned to rain just before dusk.
Chains or snow tires were required along a 300 mile stretch of
Interstate 80 from Baxter, California to east of Elko about 100
miles from the Utah line.
In Mono County, California along the eastern Sierra, avalanche
warnings were issued for areas around Twin Lakes, Bridgeport and
June Lake. Sergeant Dave O'Hara of the Mono County Sheriff's Office
says deputies went door-to-door in some avalanche prone areas
advising residents to seek shelter elsewhere because of the
precarious loading of snow on the hills.
A few people left their homes in the Twin Lakes area but he says
no one had showed up late Friday at shelters set up at June Lake
Forecasters say the brunt of the storm, accompanied by gusting
winds, will likely hit throughout the day today. But the intense
low pressure system responsible for the storm will remain nearly
stationary off the Washington and Oregon coast before moving inland
across California and Nevada on Monday.
At Reno-Tahoe International Airport, plows kept runways and
taxiways open today but there were flight delays and cancelations.
Airport spokesman Brian Kulpin says if the snow continues, management people will join janitors and
customer service workers to help shovel snow.