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After winds, outlook clear

After two days of windy weather and a few snowflakes reported in the Las Vegas Valley, conditions are expected to get back to normal, and locals can expect sunny skies through the weekend.

A dusting of snow was reported in some parts of the valley between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service said.

The light snow was part of the same weather system that brought high force winds through the valley Wednesday night.

Wind speeds were measured as high as 78 mph at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, comparable to that of a Category 1 hurricane.

As winds ripped through the valley, precautions were taken to limit or prevent any damage.

The large cranes on site at CityCenter were shut down, slowing progress on the project “only very slightly,” said Yvette Monet, spokeswoman for MGM Mirage.

“We relocated the crane workers to other tasks,” she said.

To prevent the cranes from being blown over, a technique called “windmilling” was used. This limits wind resistance by allowing the cranes to revolve slightly on their bases, letting them swing with the wind.

Construction on the dam bypass bridge at Hoover Dam also was not affected by the wind, according to Dave Zanetell, a Federal Highway Administration engineer.

In September 2006, two pairs of 280-foot-tall steel towers were toppled by the wind, shutting down U.S. Highway 93, halting construction and ultimately delaying the project’s completion until 2010.

Wednesday’s gusts blew over plenty of trees and downed power lines, and the effects weren’t limited to property damage.

ESPN radio was broadcasting its content simultaneously on frequencies 920 and 1100 in preparation for its transition to ESPN 1100 on March 3. The bad weather took 1100 offline, said Mitch Moss, program director. Repairs were made, and the permanent switch will take place as scheduled.

Outside the valley, a U.S. Postal Service truck traveling on Interstate 15 was blown over near Mesquite, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.

“The wind and debris caused very hazardous driving conditions,” said Trooper Kevin Honea. “But no one was injured.”

Winds on Wednesday reached 67 mph at McCarran International Airport and 63 mph at the North Las Vegas Airport.

Winds could reach speeds of above 25 mph today but are expected to calm over the weekend with clear skies and a high of 65 degrees Saturday and 68 on Sunday.

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