Winter storm messes with traffic, dumps snow on Sierra

A fast-moving winter strom dumped up to a foot of snow in the mountains and made a mess of morning travel Wednesday, causing more than three dozen crashes and spin-outs in the region.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen said he didn't have exact figures for the Carson City area, but northwest Nevada saw 37 vehicle crashes, 10 of which had injuries claimed or reported, none serious.

With a forecast overnight low of 17 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, motorists are warned to expect slick conditions today as melted snow refreezes.

NHP warns that motorists should assume roads to be icy and not wet as temperatures linger at or dip below the freezing mark. They should be especially wary of black ice on bridges and below overpasses.

On Wednesday, NHP intermittently closed stretches of I-80 between Reno and Sparks. All sections, including the Spaghetti Bowl intersection of I-80 and U.S. Highway 395, reopened before 11 a.m.

Allen said the spot closures allowed plows and trucks through traffic jams to deliver salt and sand to a slippery highway littered with spinouts.

"It's a mess out there," he told KRNV-TV.

Law officers responded to more than three dozen accidents, including a rollover on U.S. 395 north of Reno near Cold Springs. No one was seriously hurt, but minor injuries were reported in 10 wrecks.

Snow totals ranged from 6 inches at the Mount Rose Ski Resort between Reno and Lake Tahoe and a foot of new snow at Alpine Meadows on the lake's west shore. About 8 inches fell at Truckee, Calif., 6 inches north of Sparks and up to 4 in Reno, where the start of the school day was delayed two hours. Carson City and Fallon had about 2 inches of snow.

The storm brought snow to the northern Sierra early Wednesday and hit Reno by about 3 a.m. on the tail of winds gusting up to 41 mph. By 6 a.m., the storm had blown through the area, said Brian O'Hara, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Reno.

"If it had moved slowly, we probably would have gotten quite a bit more," O'Hara told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The weather service lifted a winter weather advisory, but the icy conditions lingered as temperatures struggled to get into the 30s before noon, just a day after Tuesday's high of 53. Overnight lows were forecast to be in the teens early today with a high in the mid-40s, warming to the mid-50s on Friday. National Weather Service meteorologist Zach Tolby said they are expecting another small storm system in the area Saturday and Saturday night, though it's too early to predict if it will result in snow at the valley floor level.


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