Thunderstorms Bring Heavy Rainfall, Lightning to the Area

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Dark thunder clouds loomed over the Truckee Meadows on Friday evening, and lightning flashed continuously for more than two hours. The sudden activity created heavy rain and flash flooding throughout the area, and also a lightning show that could be seen from any part of Reno or Sparks.

The lightning strikes caused up to 20 small fires in our region, and luckily crews and the rain kept them at a mere total of 10 acres. Most of the fires were single trees struck by lightning.

The rain was so heavy, that many streets filled up with runoff, such as the Rock Boulevard Underpass. Drivers speeding along hit water deep enough that it spayed across the road itself, but it was not deep enough to strand any of the vehicles.

Flooded roadways and small brushfires weren't the only problems caused by the storm. A gazebo that once stood beside a house on a property on University Ridge is now just a pile of debris. Winds as strong as 70 miles per hour ripped the structure off its moorings and crumpled it against the house. No one was home at the time the structure was destroyed and no damage was done to the house.

The lightning storm knocked out electricity all across the region, making driving conditions in some areas even more dangerous. Authorities had to shut down a section of Glendale Avenue in Sparks after bolts of lightning scored a direct hit on some overhead power lines. Sierra-Pacific crews say the intense heat of the strike melted the plastic protectors along the wire and ignited several nearby bushes. The strike also caused the line to collapse within 15 feet above the street, prompting police to shut down the road.

The intersection of Pyramid and McCarran is just one of many that lost power tonight, creating chaos on the roads. Lines of drivers grew longer as they waited to get through the four-way stops. one at a time. A few crashes were the result of many drivers not realizing the danger.

The area of Spanish Springs was pounded with almost one-and-a-half inches of rain, enough to carry debris throughout the flooded streets.

Albeit the flash flooding, small brush fires, and intense traffic situations, Friday evening's thunderstorms produced a beautiful golden sunset with a mixture of rainbows, clouds, and rain.

The stadium lights even fizzled out at Peccole Park, where former major league slugger Jose Canseco was playing for the Long Beach Armada. Before the game was suspended in the fifth inning with the Reno Silver Sox leading Long Beach 3-2, Canseco ground out to third and walked. He received a police escort from the dugout to the parking
lot after the stadium lights went out.

Some Reno casinos also lost their power for quite some time. Most of Harrah's Reno was in the dark for at least two hours. Spokeswoman Jamie Agee says the storm also forced the cancellation of Harrah's late-night revue "Rock My Ride," and shut guests out of hotel rooms. Down the street at the Silver Legacy Resort Hotel, the storm washed out an outdoor Reno Philharmonic concert after only two musical numbers. An accompanying fireworks display that was to mark the resort's 11th anniversary was canceled.