Power outages, damage, remain as latest storm exits Reno

RENO -- The latest wind- and moisture-packed storms moving east out of the Sierra Tuesday left a trail of damaged homes, power outages and closed schools in western Nevada.

More than 9 feet of snow had fallen at some Sierra ski resorts since the series of storms began on Saturday. Sierra Pacific Power Co. estimated that about 10,000 customers still were without electricity on Tuesday -- about 3 percent of the utility's 326,000 customers.

"We're making good progress in the Carson City-Minden area," where the number of homes without power was halved to about 350 on Tuesday, utility spokesman Gary Aldax said.

"At Lake Tahoe, we made some pretty good ground and then the next wave of the storm came through and knocked out some more lines," he said.

"Our crews are still out there working 24 hours just chipping away at it," he said.

By midday Tuesday, about 2,000 people were without power in the Reno-Sparks area, 7,000 around Lake Tahoe and 650 in Alpine County, Calif.

Aldax compared the outages to those during a 1986 ice storm and a 1990 snow storm.

"Definitely one of the largest our system has ever experienced," he said.

A combination of power outages and bad roads meant another snow day for pupils in the Tahoe-Truckee school district, the Lake Tahoe Unified district, Incline Village and Storey County.

Chains were mandatory on Interstate-80 over Donner Summit on Tuesday with chains or snow tires required on all other mountain roads that were open.

Alpine Meadows was reporting 69 inches of snow at mid mountain and Kirkwood had 112 inches total since snow began falling on Saturday.

A snow advisory remained in effect in the Sierra. Otherwise, scattered snow showers were likely across the northern third of Nevada from the California line to Utah with forecasters predicting unsettled weather through Christmas.

Twelve Carson City families were left homeless the week before Christmas after Saturday's winds ripped the roof off their apartment complex.

Property owner Ron Smiley said it may take months to make repairs.

"I've lost my livelihood, but I'm more than sorry for the poor tenants who have to find somewhere else to live," he said.

From a few shingles to entire roofs, insurance companies were swamped with claims.

State Insurance Commissioner Alice Molasky-Arman designated the region a catastrophe on Monday, allowing insurance adjusters from out-of-state to operate in Nevada and help local adjusters process the influx of claims.

Allstate reported taking 300 claims by noon Monday.

Farmers Insurance reported 800 claims following the storm.

Following Saturday's winds that topped 90 mph in the Reno area and 120 mph over the Sierra crests, usually dry Reno recorded record precipitation on Monday.

In 24 hours, 1.29 inches of snow and rain fell at the airport, doubling the previous mark of 0.64 inch set in 1957.

It was just shy of one-fifth of Reno's average annual precipitation of 7.5 inches. Precipitation so far since Jan. 1 stands at 6.63 inches.

South of Gardnerville, Nev., Shirley Blume was still melting snow on her wood stove to make soup Monday, 48 hours after her power went out.

"Because we're on pumps, we don't have water," she told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

"After a couple of days, you start to get uneasy. You've got trees in your house. Everything is dry. You've got candles and wood-burning stoves. It starts to get dangerous."


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