Round two: foot of snow headed for Sierra

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RENO, Nev. (AP) - The second round of a late-winter storm moved into the Sierra on Wednesday, with more than a foot of snow possible in the mountains around Lake Tahoe and high-wind warnings in effect from Reno to Las Vegas, where winds gusted in excess of 40 mph.

Less than a half foot of snow fell at Lake Tahoe early Wednesday, but it made for slippery conditions on area highways where chains were required over the highest passes. Another half foot of snow was expected at the highest elevations as a winter-weather advisory remained in effect above 7,000 feet through 5 a.m. Thursday for much of the Sierra’s eastern front.

“Snow will create hazardous driving conditions on all Sierra passes and periodically on roads within the Tahoe basin,” the National Weather Service said.

More than 8 inches of new snow fell at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area at Mammoth Lakes, Calif., prompting resort officials to announce they will keep ski runs open through Memorial Day weekend for the 27th year in a row.

“Although winter got off to a slow start, the past month brought a series of strong storms with nearly 100 inches of snow,” Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory said Wednesday.

Six inches of snow had fallen at the Alpine Meadows ski resort near Tahoe, 4 inches at Incline Village, and 3 inches at the Mount Rose ski resort between Reno and Tahoe, the service said.

The weather service said 15 to 25 mph winds in the Sierra - with gusts in excess of 75 mph - likely would produce wave heights of 2 to 4 feet on the northern half of Lake Tahoe.

Wind advisories also remained in effect through Thursday in southern Nevada. Clark County issued an air-quality advisory for all of the Las Vegas Valley because of blowing dust, in addition to a high-wind advisory the National Weather Service issued for the western part of the valley. Winds of 20 to 35 mph were expected, with gusts up to 45 mph, Wednesday afternoon.

“Strong crosswinds will make for difficult driving especially along the (Interstate) 215 beltway on the west side of the valley. Loose objects left outside may be blown away if not secured,” the service said.

Weather service forecaster Duane Dykema said the storms are not expected to make a significant dent in the drought in northern Nevada.

“We’re so late in the rainy season, by the law of averages and the way the climate works here, it would almost be impossible to make up much ground on our drought situation unless we get very anomalous precipitation between now and the end of April,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “The best we can hope for is to ease some of these deficits.”

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