Winter Storm

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A post-Christmas storm battered the Sierra and western Nevada with hurricane force winds, followed by road-clogging snow.

Winds to 135 mph blasted the Sierra on Tuesday while gusts that
peaked at 104 mph grounded planes in Reno and toppled trucks between Reno and Carson City.

The wind was followed by snow that left a foot or more of new powder at Sierra ski resorts and forced motorists to chain up on both Interstate 80 and U.S. 50 in California. Chains or snow tires were required on all mountain roads.

The strongest gust on Slide Mountain was recorded Tuesday afternoon, about the same time winds hit 81 mph in Washoe Valley,
blowing over four tractor-trailer rigs.

Winds that momentarily peaked at 104 mph at the National Weather
Service in Reno delayed arrivals and departures at the Reno airport
and forced several cancellations, according to airport spokesman Brian Kulpin.

Weather Service meteorologist Scott McGuire said he happened to
be glancing at the wind gauge when it briefly hit 104 mph. He said
the weather service doesn't maintain wind speed records.

A wildland fire sparked by a fallen power line quickly spread over more than 200 acres in the hills above Sparks, but burned away from homes before it was slowed by incoming rain.

South of Reno, high-profile rigs were diverted from wind-prone U.S. 395 but four were tossed by the vicious winds, one ending up across the 2-lane diversion road.

Power was doused in scattered areas throughout the Sierra and western Nevada. Tahoe ski areas shut down their lifts in deference
to the winds, which tossed the lake's usually placid waters into 6-foot breakers, according to the weather service.

Both the snow and wind were expected to taper off late Wednesday
with skies returning to cloudy by Thursday.


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