Storm Ushers 2003 Out In Northern Nevada

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Northern Nevada greeted 2004 pretty much the same way it exited 2003, with another in a series of potent winter storms that put a snowy, gusty damper on New Year's Eve plans.

Chains were mandatory over Donner Summit on Interestate-80 as the storm moved in hours before the new year arrived.

A winter storm warning was in effect for the Lake Tahoe Basin lasting through New Year's Day with about 4 inches likely at lake level and twice that at the higher elevations. Another 8-18 inches was likely on Thursday.

Snow was expected to reach the valley floors around Reno Wednesday night, leaving up to 2 inches by morning.

A winter storm warning also was in effect from Winnemucca east to northern Elko County for up to 8 inches of snow by New Year's Day.

Chains or snow tires were required on U.S. 93 north and south of Interstate 80 and on Nevada 225, 227 and 229.

The Desert Research Institute coaxed a few more drops of precipitation out of the snow by turning on cloud seeding generators in the Toiyabe, Tuscarora and Ruby mountains.

Along with heavy snow and temperatures well below freezing tonight, strong winds were forecast. Elko and White Pine counties were under a blowing snow advisory.

Gusts to 40 mph and higher were forecast through New Year's Day.

"If the storm develops as anticipated, it could make for very uncomfortable conditions," National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Brown said in Reno.

It snowed off and on at Tahoe's south shore Wednesday, where thousands of people headed for the casino core to welcome the new year.

"In the 25 years I've been up there for the holiday, it hasn't snowed," Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said. "This year, it will be interesting to see how long people linger outside in the snow and the wind."

After Tuesday's surprise snow, this storm skirted southern Nevada, promising only cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 30s to welcome in the new year.