Windy weather spreads across Nevada

Wind gusted to more than 100 mph Tuesday south of Yerington, grounding a reseeding project near Wells as a winter storm crossed the northern half of the state.

About a third of an inch of precipitation fell along the eastern Sierra front bringing some calm to the Carson-Tahoe area, but another storm could kick things up again Friday or Saturday, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

Nina Helm said winds tore the side off an aluminum barn early Tuesday at her home five miles south of Yerington. She said a neighbor's wind gauge showed a peak gust of 128 mph Tuesday morning.

"Power poles are bending back and forth and the power is flickering on and off," Helm said. "It sounds like there's a god-awful storm out there, but if you look up, the sky is clear as a bell. When you look across, though, you can't see anything but dirt flying."

She said the wind at her home was much calmer Monday, when Carson City was experiencing high winds. Two semi-trailer trucks were blown over in Washoe Valley on Monday and wind speeds up to 75 mph were reported in the area.

Meteorologist Danny Mercer of the National Weather Service said the winds at Yerington were a continuation of Monday's storm as it moved east. The winds in the Carson area Tuesday were gusting to about 30 mph Tuesday, which Mercer said was expected.

"Once you get some precipitation, it knocks the winds down," Mercer said. He said the weather service is forecasting that the winds will continue to calm until midday Friday.

But high wind will likely return in advance of another winter storm late Friday or early Saturday, Mercer said.

He said some callers from the Yerington area had told the weather service Tuesday of wind gusts in the 55 to 65 mph range.

Hale Bennett of Carson City, a pilot and owner of the Silver Springs Airport, said the area where Helm lives is subject to higher winds.

"The wind comes over the mountain near the Old Anaconda mine pit," Bennett said. "Where she lives is right in the middle of it."

He said a wind gauge near the airport had registered gusts of 52 mph Monday night and 56 mph early Tuesday, but had died down by the afternoon to about 15 mph. He said he had heard of no damage at the airport either day.

A Lyon County sheriff's dispatcher said only two reports of wind damage had been received Tuesday - a shed in Silver Springs had been blown over and a barn in Smith Valley had been damaged.

Helm said the people she had talked to near Yerington could not recall any wind storm as strong.

"On every roof, you can see that 10 or 20 shingles are gone," Helm said.

Jeff Cain, chief pilot for Sky Dance Helicopters at Round Hill Village on Tahoe's southeast shore, said he has delayed a charter flight to Mexico until at least Thursday because of the wind.

"I have a helicopter out at Wells that is on the reseeding project and it's grounded until at least Sunday," Cain said. "Even if it could fly, the seed would end up in Utah - and it was a lot of work getting that seed."

The project is one of several in Nevada attempting to reestablish vegetation on lands bared by the state's worst-ever fire season. Hand crews gathered the seed throughout much of the region.

Wind gusted to 60 mph at Lake Tahoe level Monday night and were gusting to 30 Tuesday afternoon, he said. Tuesday afternoon winds were still reaching 60 mph on the ridge between Tahoe and the Carson Valley, Cain said. He said about 15 inches of snow had fallen at Round Hill from the storm.

Tuesday's wind caused scattered electrical power outages in the Carson City area throughout the day Tuesday, Sierra Pacific Power Co. spokesman Karl Walquist said.

But the only large outage affected about 600 customers in the area of Walker Lake, Topaz Lake and Coleville, Calif., he said. It started about 3 p.m. and Sierra Pacific crews were still traveling along power lines trying to find the problem an hour later, he said. Walquist said the outage appeared weather-related.

Jim Braswell, manager of the Minden-Tahoe Airport, said he did not have a record of the peak winds there, but that they had dropped to a steady 9 knots (10.3 mph) by 5 p.m. He said no wind damage had been reported at the airport but that his neighbor's fence in Gardnerville had been blown over.

High wind warnings for Washoe Valley drivers continued early Tuesday evening, chain requirements were imposed on the Mount Rose highway and and a snowfall of 18 inches was reported at Mount Rose-Ski Tahoe.


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