Storm brings avalanche warning, traffic accidents

A severe avalanche warning was issued Saturday by the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort as snow continued to fall on Mount Charleston.

Skiers, snowboarders and others who planned to visit the mountain for some winter fun were urged to stay away from the ski resort until it opens Friday.

By then, ski patrols will be on duty and the resort’s avalanche control team will be up and operating, according to the resort’s website.

The storm system that blew into the area Thursday caused more than 80 traffic accidents between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon, including one deadly accident Friday morning. It brought a record low temperature Friday and heavy rain to the Las Vegas Valley.

So far, November has been the valley’s sixth wettest since records were kept starting in 1937.

Adverse weather conditions also have caused problems in Northern Nevada and across the Western states. The system is expected to continue to do so as it moves east across the U.S.

The Nevada Highway Patrol on Saturday afternoon reported 64 accidents with property damage and 23 accidents with injuries since Friday. Troopers will have responded to well over 200 accidents by the time the storm passes, officials said. Troopers average about 30 accidents on a sunny day.

The total rainfall since the storm hit Thursday was recorded at 1.36 inches, with 0.17 inches coming down since midnight Friday, as measured at the official monitoring site at McCarran International Airport.

The temperature Friday was 49 degrees, a record low for that date — the previous record was 50 degrees in 2004 — and the first time the temperature has been below 50 degrees since January.

“We could get a bit more (rain) before it ends,” meteorologist Ryan Metzger with the National Weather Service office in Las Vegas said Saturday. “Right now we’re looking at it ending in the overnight hours.”

The Spring Mountains are under a winter weather advisory for possibly hazardous combinations of snow, sleet and freezing rain until Sunday morning, and the Highway Patrol is requiring snow chains for all automobiles without snow tires driving on state Route 156 in Lee Canyon and state Route 157 in Kyle Canyon.

Just under 20 inches of snow had fallen on the mountains since the storm blew in, and almost half of it fell Friday night.

The ski resort reported 11 inches of snowfall since Friday morning, and it was still coming down Saturday.

The valley can expect to see clear skies by the end of the day Sunday. But there is a chance for more rain Friday, Metzger said.

“For the early part of the week, we should see sunny conditions. A few clouds maybe,” he said.

Weather forecasters said the storm would sweep across the South and toward the Atlantic coast next week.

Joe Harris, a meteorologist with the weather service, said the “Nordic outbreak” will “produce a mixed bag of wily weather that will end up impacting much of the nation.”

In New Mexico, authorities and residents braced for the second hit of a one-two punch that had already blanketed parts of the state with snow and freezing rain and caused a rollover accident that killed a 4-year-old girl in the eastern part of the state. It was unclear where in the state the heaviest bands of snow would develop, meteorologist Jennifer Palucki said.

Three other storm-related deaths were reported Saturday in a crash in the Texas Panhandle involving nearly a dozen vehicles.

In California, where the storm system hit first, prompting flooding and water rescues in recent days, three deaths have been linked to the storms since Thursday, as authorities found one body near downed power lines, one man crashed his vehicle into a tree and a woman was killed when a tree fell on a parked car.

In Arizona, firefighters recovered the body of a man who was swept away by high waters Friday in the Santa Cruz River in the southern part of the state.

Rain came down Saturday as more than 8,000 cyclists competed in the annual El Tour de Tucson. Also, high school football games, soccer tournaments and parades were canceled across the state.

In Texas, freezing rain and cold temperatures have already hampered travel and much of the “heavy stuff” will hit south of Interstate 20, Harris said. Several traffic accidents were reported Saturday, including the fatal crash late Friday that also left several injured hurt in Vega, about 30 miles west Amarillo, and one that injured three members of singer Willie Nelson’s band when their bus struck a pillar near Sulphur Springs, north of Dallas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Wesley Juhl at and (702) 383-0381. Follow him on Twitter @WesJuhl.

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