High winds clip across Sierra and Eastern front

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RENO - State meteorologist say winds in excess of 100 mph passed Monday through the Sierra Nevada, down the eastern slopes and whipped rain into the valleys.

"The winds, with gusts of well over 140 mph, whipped over the Sierra peaks," said Tom Sylke, meteorologist, National Weather Forecast office in Reno.

Weather Service reports indicated that there should be a slight break in the weather today, but clouds will return with rain and possibly snow to the 4,500 foot level by Wednesday.

"We have a strong storm track that's undercutting a pressure ridge below Alaska. It's has a good trough of moisture with it," Sylke said. "It seems that every other day we're getting a system rolling through here."

It was the latest in a series of storms this year that all but ended the specter of a dry winter and a gloomy ski season.

The potent winter storm that swept through northern Nevada on Monday clogged highways proved to be too much of a good thing for some ski resorts.

Many shut down or curtailed operations because of the wind. Squaw Valley recorded a 93 mph gust at the 8,000 foot level, Alpine Meadows topped 100 mph and gusts to 50 mph were common in the Reno-Carson City area.

Reaching any open resorts also was challenging. Chains were mandatory Monday over Donner Summit and chains or snow tires were required throughout the Sierra. Some roadways were closed on and off for avalanche control.

Forecasters were calling for a daily chance of snow through the end of the week, letting ski resort operators predict huge crowds for the traditionally busy Presidents' Day weekend.

The U.S. Forest Service said the avalanche danger was high along the Sierra crest from Yuba Pass to Sonora Pass and back country travel was not advised outside developed ski areas.

Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger said there were no major closures or accidents on I-80 despite the storm.

In Truckee, rain began falling late Sunday on some 8 inches of snow, threatening to create what locals call ''Sierra cement.'' Resident Brad Haglund managed to shovel the snow before it hardened.

''It's nice to get it before it turns to something heavier,'' he said.


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