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5 inches of snow in Reno, traffic backing up

A winter storm warning remained in effect for the region through 4 p.m. Tuesday, when most of the snow was expected to end. (The Trucker file photo)

By Scott Sonner
The Associated Press

12/3/2013

RENO, Nev. — A winter storm dumped up to 5 inches of snow on the Reno area Tuesday, snarling city streets during the morning commute and slowing Interstate 80 traffic over the Sierra as the system moved across the northern half of Nevada.

A winter storm warning remained in effect for the region through 4 p.m. Tuesday, when most of the snow was expected to end. But 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 weekend.

Truckee Meadows Community College suspended classes and Washoe County school students were being sent home early on Tuesday to help ease evening traffic congestion as streets slicken in sub-freezing temperatures.

Dozens of accidents included one involving a Nevada Highway Patrol cruiser and another with a school bus, but no injuries were reported.

More than 8 inches of snow was reported in the foothills above Sparks, 7 inches in Cold Springs north of Reno and 3.5 inches in Fernley about 30 miles east on I-80.

Heavy snow started about 8 a.m. and surprised commuters 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.

Chains or snow tires were required on I-80 from the Nevada-California line to Truckee, Calif., as well as at the south end of Lake Tahoe on U.S. 50 from South Lake Tahoe to Twin Bridges and on California 89 from Bliss State Park to Monitor Pass. California 89 was closed from Monitor Pass to the junction of U.S. 395.

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 Mt. Charleston. The Las Vegas valley might even see snow on Saturday, although Stachelski said it's hard to tell how much.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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