Snow, wind and accidents close Highway 395 in Washoe Valley
Appeal Staff Writer
Strong wind gusts and consistently falling snow played havoc with the roads of the Sierra Sunday night.
The conditions caused the closure of Highway 395 through Washoe Valley for most of the evening Sunday due to white-out conditions. Motorists were able to use old Highway 395 for most of the evening, but there were delays due to accidents, according to Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen.
“There is blowing snow and near-zero visibility throughout the valley, and we don’t really have an estimate for when it will open again,” Allen said Sunday evening.
The storm blanketed the upper elevations with more than a foot of snow on Sunday, causing massive delays on the mountain passes.
Chains were mandatory on Highway 50 over Echo Summit, Interstate 80 over Donner Summit, Mount Rose Highway, State Route 28 around Lake Tahoe and Highway 88 over Carson Pass. Chains or snow tires were required on most other highways in the region, including much of Highway 395 between Bridgeport and Reno.
Traffic inched along the busy Highway 50 corridor, following about a two-hour shutdown for avalanche control. More than 50 reports of fender-bender accidents were made to police dispatch, none of them being very serious.
Allen said the California Highway Patrol requested that Interstate 80 be closed at the California state line because of an accident involving a semi, and that Highway 395 be closed at the state line because of numerous delays just inside California.
“That is really their decision. We are just here to assist them in whatever way we can,” Allen said.
Whiteout conditions caused by 60-plus mph gusts forced a number of ski resorts to shut down early Sunday afternoon at a number of resorts, including Heavenly. Since Thursday, the storms have dropped more than 4 1/2 feet of snow at between Heavenly Mountain Resort, Kirkwood Mountain Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe.
With the snow expected to continue in the mountains and on the valley floor through tonight, motorists are being asked to take precautions.
“Expect more challenging conditions in the upper elevations, and if you don’t have to travel, postpone your trip,” Allen said. “If you have to travel, keep at least a quarter tank of gas in case you are stuck in traffic or delayed. Carry chains, food and a blanket just in case.”
The National Weather Service is predicting light snow with little accumulation today for the Carson City area, with snow increasing and becoming heavy at times from this afternoon through this evening. Snowfall amounts of 3-7 inches are expected in the foothills north and west of Reno and up to 10 inches in Virginia City by Tuesday morning. The storm will bring at least a foot of snow at lake level, and 2 or more feet above 7,000 feet.
Wind gusts up to 40 mph will produce areas of blowing snow and near-zero visibility at times.
• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1217. Jeff Munson, Nevada Appeal News Service, and the Associated Press contributed to this story.