- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

RENO, Nev. A powerful windstorm lashed the Reno area Saturday, causing major property damage, flight cancellations and scattered power outages.
Gusts reached up to 82 mph in Reno and 134 mph on the Sierra Nevada crest in advance of a storm expected to dump up to 2 feet of snow in the mountains, according to the National Weather Service.
"It's the strongest winds we've ever recorded in Reno," said weather service forecaster Tom Cylke. "What we saw today were hurricane-force winds."
In Northern California, meanwhile, rain-swollen rivers rose to flood levels, while high winds, dangerous surf, snow and even a rare coastal tornado were reported.
Winds in Nevada blew shingles off homes and toppled truck rigs, power lines, billboards, carports, trees and fences, police said. Many stoplights were out in Reno and police advised residents to stay home.
Sierra Pacific Power Co. spokeswoman Faye Anderson said outages affected an estimated 25,000 customers in Reno and Sparks.
"Our guys have their hands full," Miss Anderson said.
At Reno-Tahoe International Airport, some flights were canceled and most Reno-bound flights were diverted, said spokesman Adam Mayberry.
"Some airplanes have landed here but very few. Most aren't landing here," he said.
At least three truck rigs were toppled by high winds, the Nevada Highway Patrol reported. The drivers escaped with minor injuries.
Meanwhile, the heavy rains and high winds pounding the California coast were expected to continue through the weekend.
"I would say north of San Francisco on up to Oregon will probably see the worst parts of it," said Diana Henderson of the National Weather Service.
The storm brought the heaviest rain to the coast by Saturday morning, some coastal areas surpassed 9 inches in 24 hours. The downpour gained strength by afternoon, with wind bursts driving rain horizontally in the San Francisco Bay area.
Already by midday, rains and even some thunderstorms prompted flood warnings along the Sacramento, Russian and Napa rivers. Minor flooding was expected when waters crested Saturday evening.
On the Humboldt County coast near Ferndale, the weather service reported a rare tornado that started as a water spout in the Pacific and moved onshore by late morning. No damage was reported.

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