Winter wonderland Ð except at airport
November 29, 2004
When it comes to winter weather, you have to take the bad with the good.
Saturday’s storm brought welcome snow to the parched Sierra Nevada, delighting skiers and snowboarders for the busy Thanksgiving weekend.
A wet winter would do much to alleviate concerns about another drought year and start to build up some of the reserves that have been depleted the last half-dozen seasons. Let it pile up, we say.
Unfortunately, along with the snow came a cold blast that left roads icy and contributed to dozens of accidents, including a death in Carson Valley. Every winter, we hope drivers are prepared for the inevitable changes in conditions, and every year it seems to catch some people off guard.
As for Northern Nevada’s reputation as a winter wonderland, the storm was a blessing for ski resorts. But it also reinforced the notion that Reno and Lake Tahoe are hard to get to in the wintertime.
The worst public relations disaster was at the Reno-Tahoe Airport, where a failed instrument landing system broke down. Thousands of people were stranded trying to fly in or out of Reno on the busiest weekend of the year.
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An airport spokesman tried to put the best face possible on the mess, saying there are “worse places to be stuck than Reno.”
We won’t argue with that, but any traveler who must deal with the stress of rearranging plans and making new connections leaves with a bad taste. They’re bound to think twice before taking a chance they’ll have to spend another vacation day stuck in an airport.
That the Federal Aviation Administration-maintained flight system failed for the second time in a month is alarming. The FAA so far has been rather vague on the cause of the problem and what it would do to make sure the equipment holds up during the next storm. We’re sure Reno officials will hound the agency until they get some answers.
Still, with all the complications caused by a storm that dropped 8 inches of snow in urban areas and 18 inches in the mountains, the remarkable fact is that air travel and highways were safe and passable within a matter of hours, in most cases.
We’ve come to expect as much – even in the harshest conditions. We should hardly be surprised that, occasionally, Mother Nature gets the upper hand.