Karl Horeis

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December 11, 2003
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Snow, ice cause of 50 traffic accidents

While more precipitation is expected today and tonight, slightly higher temperatures will reduce the amount of ice on the roads.

"There's slight chance of rain (today) at about midday," said Mark Brown, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. "The snow level should be going up to about 6,000 and climb to 6,500 into the night."

Saturday is supposed to be breezy and cloudy without rain, he said. Saturday night it could rain again and Sunday there's another chance of snow.

The Nevada Highway Patrol investigated 31 accidents in Carson City and Reno on Thursday morning. They were called to more than 50 weather-related wrecks between 5 and 9:45 a.m. but couldn't get to all of them.

"We just didn't have the manpower to respond to every call so we had to prioritize," said Nevada Highway Patrol trooper Rob Stepien. Most of the calls were for property damage, not injuries, he said. For many calls, where no one was hurt and the cars were off the road, troopers sent tow trucks and moved on.

"We've had a lot of people losing control of their cars on the ice," said Carson City Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Shirey on Thursday. "We had a rollover on South Carson Street - just a series of typical, weather-related emergencies. That, compounded by (alarm system) panel alarms, and we've been going pretty crazy the last few days."

With more wintry weather on the horizon, Shirey had some advice for drivers.

"Basically when we have weather like this, slow down, brake slowly, don't brake as hard and as you approach an intersection, hesitate and look both ways to make sure somebody is not coming through the intersection unable to stop."

He said many of the people involved in recent accidents are not the ones who caused them.

"You know, one person will slam on their brakes and slide into two other people, that kind of thing."

A driver's visibility is critical, he said.

"You've got to use your peripheral vision. When you scrape your window don't just scrape a little hole to look through; scrape your entire windshield, scrape your back window, scrape your rear-view mirrors and scrape the side windows. And there's no such thing as driving too slow."

Shirey said he's glad more precipitation is on the way, even if it means ice and snow.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword. You want the weather to be able to come in and replenish the water tables and help reduce the potential for more extreme fires during next year's wildland season, but on the flip side, if it's going to happen, you want it to be gentle so that it doesn't cause extreme havoc in the community."

No matter what happens, the Carson City Fire Department will be ready to respond, he said.

"We might have to drive slow but we'll be there."

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Dec 11, 2003 12:00AM Published Dec 11, 2003 12:00AM Copyright 2003 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.