A winter storm dumped about a half foot of snow on the Reno area Tuesday, sending state workers and school children home early, snarling city traffic and slowing the flow of Interstate 80 over the Sierra as the system moved across the northern half of Nevada ahead of a bitter cold front.
About a dozen flights were canceled at Reno-Tahoe International Airport and more were delayed before a winter storm warning expired at 4 p.m. across most of the region. Cold weather was expected to continue through the week with lows dropping to single digits in the north and into the 20s in Las Vegas, where some snow is possible by the weekend.
Truckee Meadows Community College suspended classes and Washoe County school students were sent home early to help ease evening traffic congestion on icy streets in freezing temperatures. Gov. Brian Sandoval also granted administrative leave Tuesday afternoon for all nonessential workers in Carson City, Douglas, Storey, Lyon and Washoe counties.
Chains or snow tires were still required Tuesday evening on most mountain highways, including I-80 from the Nevada line to Truckee, Calif.
In northeast Nevada, a winter storm warning remained in effect until 4 a.m. Wednesday in White Pine County along the Utah line, where another 6 inches of snow was forecast in the valleys — up to 18 inches in the mountains.
Snow totals ranged from more than 8 inches in the foothills above Sparks, 7 inches in Stead north of Reno and 5 inches around other parts of the metro area. Heavy snow started about 8 a.m. and surprised commuters by how fast it started to accumulate.
Reno’s 14 snowplow crews were working overtime in two 12-hour shifts to try to clear the roads.
“It’s our first storm so we just have to retrain everybody to slow down, take their time, leave a little early and if you don’t have to go out, wait until the storm passes,” said Marnell Heinz, the city’s maintenance and operations manager for public works.
At one point, traffic was backed up for more than a mile on North McCarran Boulevard to the I-80 interchange.
Near record-low temperatures were forecast across much of northern Nevada beginning Wednesday, with a low of 9 predicted in Reno.
In southern Nevada, daytime highs will be cold enough to approach records, but the nighttime lows will be “nothing really extraordinary,” according to National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Stachelski.
Sensitive plants could suffer, and pipes could freeze. Fire officials were sending out safety tips Tuesday to desert dwellers less accustomed to the chill. “It gets cold every winter, but people try to live like it’s 100 degrees year-round,” Stachelski said.
A little snow is expected north of Las Vegas in Lincoln County, and at Mount Charleston. The Las Vegas valley might even see snow Saturday, although Stachelski said it’s hard to tell how much.
Source: Sacramento Bee