Winter barrels in: Storm causes power outages, accidents |

Winter barrels in: Storm causes power outages, accidents

Scott Sonner
Associated Press
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

A winter storm with winds gusting to more than 80 mph Friday knocked out power for 2,780 people in east Carson City, grounded flights in Reno and kicked up dust storms that contributed to a fatal pile-up that shut down a stretch of U.S. Interstate 80.

The power outage in Carson City Friday was caused by a tree limb falling onto power lines on Highway 50 amid strong wind gusts in the area, said Karl Walquist, an NV Energy spokesman. The outage started at 1:35 p.m. and power was restored at about 2 p.m.

The storm had dumped several inches of snow on the Sierra by Friday afternoon and was expected to bring as much as a foot to the mountains by today. But the high winds postponed scheduled openings Friday at several ski resorts before next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

One gust of 104 mph was recorded near the Mount Rose Ski Resort between Reno and Lake Tahoe, where winds were sustained between 35 mph and 50 mph. The Carson Valley recorded a gust of more than 80 mph.

The howling winds on Friday reduced visibility to near zero with blowing dust and dirt in the middle of the day on I-80 about 60 miles east of Reno where the eight-vehicle wreck killed one, seriously injured six and shut down both westbound lanes for several hours.

“I believe it was weather related,” Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Chuck Allen said about the crash that backed up westbound traffic for miles. The eastbound lanes were not affected.

The wreck about 1 p.m. involved four semitrailer trucks and three pickup trucks, including one in which the person who died had been a passenger, Allen said. The name of the victim had not been released.

In Washoe Valley, campers and trailers were banned on U.S. Highway 395. Campers and trailers are also prohibited north of Reno on U.S. 395 in California between Hallelujah Junction and Susanville, Calif., where more than 2 inches of snow fell in less than an hour Friday afternoon.

Heavenly Mountain Resort was among the other ski slopes that postponed opening until at least Saturday at South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

“On the bright side, we’re expecting about a foot of snow from this storm, which should allow us to open more terrain and kick off 2009-10 with a powder day,” the resort said on its Web site.

The storm also brought rain and snow flurries to the valley floors in the region.

Another fast-moving, but less powerful storm is expected to move into the area tonight, bringing potential wind gusts of 35 mph.

Temperatures will drop this weekend to highs in the mid 40s in Carson City and lows near 20 degrees.

The mercury won’t get above 50 until Tuesday.

(Nevada Appeal reporter Brian Duggan contributed to this report)