National Guard snow removal |

National Guard snow removal

Steve Ranson |
Snow removal crews in Virginia City cleared streets by loading snow in Nevada Army National Guard vehicles.

After 9 inches of snow fell on the Comstock Thursday, residents of Virginia City had the daunting task of digging out of more than 3 feet of the white stuff that accumulated during the latter part of the week.

Through a county request made to the state’s Department of Emergency Management, the Nevada Army National Guard responded with four 10-ton dump trucks with winches from the 609th Combat Engineer Co., in Fallon. A Guard spokesman said Tuesday eight soldiers, two per vehicle, worked with snow removal operations on Friday and Saturday and were on standby Sunday.

Once filled with snow, the Guard trucks headed toward an area south of Virginia City’s Fourth Ward School to dump the snow.

Spokesman Austin Osborne, an administrative officer with Storey County, was thankful for the outside help.

“We sure appreciate the Guard coming up here on Friday and Saturday to load snow,” Osborne said. “The Nevada Division of Forestry also helped us.”

Osborne said the county used several areas for dumping tons of snow and received permission from local property owners for additional space. The last time Osborne saw this much snow was during the New Year’s Eve holiday in 2005-2006 and before that in early January 1997.

Soldiers from the 609th reported to Lockwood earlier last week, where, according to the Guard, flooding affected the town’s water system. Lockwood is east of Sparks and near the Truckee River. The Guard spokesman said the 609th is the only unit in Northern Nevada that has dump trucks and boats, which could be used for rescuing civilians. Osborne said one of three bridges that connect a housing area was washed out.

Osborne added crews were busy at Mark Twain Estates near the Six Mile Canyon road south of Dayton. The Six Mile Canyon road that connects the Mark Twain area to Virginia City also washed out.

Meteorologist Mark Deustschendorf of the National Weather Service in Reno said Tuesday snow buried Virginia City and the Virginia Highlands with more than 2 feet of snow before Thursday’s all-day snowstorm.

“On Thursday, a steady snow fell that day with 8 to 11 inches,” Deustschendorf said.

Wind also whipped the snow into high drifts that covered vehicles and blocked entrances to some homes and businesses in the historic mining town.

Gold Hill and Silver City, two other historic mining communities downhill from Virginia City, also received several feet of snow.

While the area has had a respite since Sunday, another storm pattern will enter western and central Nevada sometime later this week. The NWS forecast calls for increasing winds on Wednesday with gusts up to 50 miles per hour and precipitation. Up to a foot of snow is predicted in the Sierra with rainfall for the valleys. Fallon can expect rain or snow showers.

More unstable weather over the weekend may lead to more travel problems across the Sierra and western Nevada.

Osborne recommended Storey County residents to be vigilant and prepared for the latest round of storms and to keep their sandbags in place, a similar announcement made by Lyon County Manager Jeff Page for residents who live near the Carson River in Dayton and downstream to Silver Springs.

Since the series of storms began 10 days ago, the level of Lahontan Reservoir has almost doubled. More than 20.2 billion gallons of water flowed into the reservoir, which has a normal storage area of 295,000 acre feet, more if the gates are raised.