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Mount Charleston receives light snowfall; valley gets trace of rain

Measurable snow fell once again on Mount Charleston and light rain sprinkled the Las Vegas Valley on Wednesday, a weather official said.

Larry Jensen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, said that as of 5:30 p.m., about 3 inches of snow had fallen on Mount Charleston at an elevation of 7,500 feet. An additional 1 to 3 inches of snow might accumulate overnight at that elevation, he said.

The snowfall was light compared with last week, when winter storms buried Mount Charleston communities.

Between 80 and 90 inches of snow dropped at 8,000 feet. The storms knocked out power lines for hundreds of Mount Charleston residents and prompted officials to issue avalanche warnings.

Jensen said rain was heaviest in the east valley, east of Boulder Highway, where 0.04 to 0.12 inches of precipitation fell. Jensen said there was a report of snow flurries Wednesday evening near Charleston Boulevard and the Las Vegas Beltway.

A low-pressure system from the Gulf of Alaska is expected to bring colder temperatures to Southern Nevada during the next few days.

Today’s high is expected to reach 43 degrees with a low of 36; Friday’s predicted high is 40 degrees with a low of 29 degrees. The first day of 2011 is expected to reach 42 degrees with a low of 29.

And while all was relatively calm in the south, Silver State residents in the north had a much different experience.

A storm socked the Sierra Nevada area with wind gusts topping 100 mph and more than a foot of snow on Wednesday, causing power outages at Lake Tahoe, flight delays in Reno and headaches for motorists throughout the region.

Utility crews working at midday to restore power to more than 10,000 homes and businesses around South Lake Tahoe, Calif., were hampered by temporary road closures for avalanche control work on highways around the lake.

Reno police responded to more than a dozen accidents on slippery roads before the Wednesday evening rush hour began, and at least a dozen flights were delayed a half-hour or longer at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

The National Weather Service reported that snow was falling at a rate of 1 inch per hour, with visibility reduced to less than one-quarter mile from Reno to Fernley, about 30 miles to the east.

The same front brought nearly an inch of rain to the foothills southeast of Reno and a bit more than a half inch of rain to Carson City.

At least 18 inches of new snow fell by Wednesday morning at most area ski resorts, including Northstar near Truckee, Calif., Heavenly at South Tahoe and Mount Rose near Reno, according to reports.

Forecasts called for another 5 to 7 inches at lake level at Tahoe and 2 to 4 inches at Reno by this morning.

The strongest wind gust recorded in the Sierra on Wednesday was 105 mph at 11 a.m. at Mammoth Lakes ski resort, which had received about 2 feet of snow over 24 hours in Mono County, the National Weather Service said.

Wind gusts reached 106 mph near Pyramid Lake 30 miles north of Reno late Tuesday night and 95 mph at Alpine Meadows ski resort west of Tahoe. The wind, combined with heavy snow that caused tree limbs to snap, took down power lines around Tahoe overnight.

“It’s the high winds combined with the heavy, wet snow,” NV Energy spokesman Karl Walquist said. “It’s also been difficult for our linemen to get to some of the outages because there is a lot of holiday traffic.”

Smaller outages were reported around the lake, from Stateline to Tahoma on the west shore and near Tahoe City in the north. Walquist said power had been restored earlier Wednesday to 3,300 customers on the north shore between Tahoe City and Kings Beach, Calif.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Antonio Planas at aplanas@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638.

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