Winter First Blast Hits Northern Nevada

Winter Storm
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Summer-like temperatures beat a hasty retreat as a cold blast invaded northern Nevada on Friday with the season's first assault of wintry weather.

Northern Nevadans awoke to slick roads, snow flurries and cold temperatures - a dramatic change from the 80 degree temperatures of three days ago.

The weather was blamed for a series of accidents on Interstate 80 involving as many as 30 vehicles, including 10 big rigs near California's Donner Summit west of Reno.

The main highway between Nevada and northern California was shut down for more than four hours in both directions. Westbound lanes were reopened shortly before 7 a.m. Eastbound lanes remained closed into the afternoon.

No one was killed, and only one person was expected to be hospitalized.

About an inch of snow fell overnight Thursday in the foothills around Reno and the valleys of western Nevada. Snow showers were scattered, and early morning commuters went through intermittent stretches of near white out conditions to dry pavement, depending on location.

But snow showers continued on and off throughout the day. Though there was little accumulation in the valleys, more than 6 inches was reported by mid afternoon at some of the higher elevations in the Sierra.

"We've got 6 to 8 inches," said Alpine Meadows spokeswoman Rachel Woods. "It's snowing hard. It looks like a February snow day."

Many Tahoe-area ski resorts took advantage of the cold weather and cranked up snowmaking equipment to help pad whatever Mother Nature brought in anticipation of the upcoming ski season.

Chains or snow tires were required across the Lake Tahoe region, including I-80, U.S. 50 and the Mount Rose Highway southwest of Reno, for much of the day.

Travel restrictions were also in place for a 46-mile stretch of U.S. 93 in eastern Nevada between Wells and Ely.

High temperatures in the Reno area topped out Friday in the mid 40s, a sharp contrast to Tuesday's sunny warmth of 80 degrees.

Overnight lows were expected to plunge into the teens and 20s, with highs over the weekend remaining in the 40s. The National Weather Service said a possibility of snow would linger into next week.