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Snow in Vegas


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Winter storm pummels Sierra, northern Nevada; Las Vegas gets snow




By Sandra Chereb



RENO, Nev. (AP) - A powerful winter storm clobbered the Sierra and northern Nevada on Friday, dumping heavy snow that closed schools and made travel treacherous from one end of the state to the other.


The potent storm churning in from the Pacific even brought a rare snowfall to the Las Vegas Strip, with some parts of the oasis city reporting up to 2 inches of snow.


Washoe County, Sparks and Reno governments, still digging out from last week's storm that left up to 4 feet of snow in some areas, each declared a state of emergency. Government offices, including Reno Municipal Court, were shut down and workers sent home.


Schools were closed in Pyramid Lake, Virginia City and Washoe County, where students had their winter breaks extended for two days earlier this week because of the last storm.


Gov. Kenny Guinn sent all nonessential state employees home by noon, and public safety officers urged people to stay off slick streets.


By early afternoon, the storm fueled by moist air from the Pacific had left up to 8 inches of snow in some valley areas, and forecasters said the worst was still to come.


"With this much snow, even at this early stage of the storm, it is going to make for treacherous conditions," said Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen. "I would seriously think one would want to stay home this weekend if you can," he said.


Chains or snow tires were required along a 300 mile stretch of Interstate 80 - the main east-west route across the state - from Baxter, Calif., to east of Elko near the Utah line.


A winter storm warning remained in effect all along the Sierra and northern Nevada through Monday. The National Weather Service predicted up to 8 feet of snow for the Lake Tahoe region, and 2 feet in the valleys of western Nevada, including the Reno-Carson City area.


In Mono County, Calif., along the eastern Sierra, avalanche warnings were issued for areas around Twin Lakes, Bridgeport and June Lake.


Forecasters said the brunt of the storm, accompanied by gusting winds, would likely hit Friday night or Saturday.


Winds were forecast to pick up late Friday, causing snow drifts up to 3 feet in the Reno area, the weather service said. One gust approaching 100 mph was recorded over the Sierra crest at midday.


By noon Friday, state troopers already had responded to 17 traffic accidents in the Reno area. Forty-one other motorists were stuck or needed some kind of assistance, Allen said.


"It's very bad conditions. Snow is coming down hard," Allen told KRNV-TV in Reno. No serious accidents were reported.


At Reno-Tahoe International Airport, plows were keeping runways and taxiways open but there were flight delays and cancelations.


"The snow removal crews are doing a terrific job. We got a lot of practice last weekend," airport spokesman Brian Kulpin said.


"If it continues (Saturday), we're going to bring in management people to work with janitors and customer service people to help shovel snow."


In southern Nevada, a snow advisory was issued for Pahrump, Indian Springs and Armagosa Valley northwest of Las Vegas.


Highway 160 from Las Vegas to Pahrump was closed because of dangerous conditions. Snow accumulations of up to 5 inches were expected, with larger amounts at higher elevations.


The dusting of snow on the Las Vegas Strip surprised tourists and residents alike.


"We looked out over the lagoon, and there's snow over the palm trees," said Mandalay Bay resort spokesman Gordon Absher.


"It's beautiful," said Wendy Williams, an employee at Caesars Palace hotel-casino. "People are all, like, 'What's going on?'"


It's been about a year since a rare desert snowfall on the Las Vegas Strip. A Dec. 30, 2003, snowstorm was the first in five years to deposit an inch or two of snow on the desert city.







Pictures of snow in Las Vegas








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