Friday, Feb. 18, 2011 | 10:33 p.m.
A wet weekend is in the works as Las Vegas will be hit with a storm bringing rain, strong winds and, at higher elevations, some snow to the valley, forecasters said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Harrison said the brunt of the rainfall was expected late Friday night.
“We’ve got a fairly widespread area of rain approaching from the southwest,” Harrison said. “Rain is pretty much a sure bet after 11 p.m.”
Harrison said the heavy rainfall will taper off about 9 a.m. Saturday, but there is a chance of showers in the afternoon. There is a 40 percent chance of rainfall from Saturday night into Sunday morning, he said.
“It looks like another part of this big storm is going to come rotating through and give us a chance for rain overnight,” Harrison said. “It’s kind of a two-part storm, but the main rainfall is Friday through Saturday morning.”
Though there will be rain over the weekend, Harrison said, the chance for flooding is slight.
“It looks like it won’t be heavy enough to cause any flooding concerns. Obviously, some low-lying areas could see some ponding of water but nothing that detrimental,” Harrison said.
In addition to rain, the valley can expect strong southwest winds between 20 and 30 mph, which will make it feel colder, Harrison said.
Mount Charleston, meanwhile, can expect 12 to 18 inches of snow. The snow will begin Friday night and continue into Saturday morning, with snow flurries continuing through Sunday morning, Harrison said.
“The department of transportation may require chains or snow tires or four wheel drive at some point tomorrow morning until they get it cleared off,” he said. “There’s definitely the potential for some hazardous driving conditions up there.”
For areas in northern Nevada, chains were mandatory most of Friday except for four-wheel drive vehicles on all three major highways linking the Sacramento, Calif., and the Tahoe areas: Interstate 80 over Donner Summit, U.S. 50 over Echo Summit and Highway 88 over Carson Pass.
“We’ve had heavy holiday traffic and hundreds of calls for service,” said California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Skeen of Truckee, Calif. “Most involve vehicles that spin off slick roadways and become stuck in snowbanks.”
The Nevada Highway Patrol reported 127 crashes and 43 such spinouts across much of northern Nevada over a 20-hour period ending late Thursday afternoon. While no updated figure was available Friday, troopers stayed busy, said NHP Sgt. Bryan Jorgensen.
“The problem has been that the roads become real slick when the temperatures drop,” he said. “Most people don’t realize they’re driving on black ice.”
No major injuries were reported because traffic moved so slowly, he added.
The storm also closed schools in Washoe and Douglas counties in northwestern Nevada and in the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District in California, and caused a two-hour delay in classes at the University of Nevada, Reno.
The storm also was blamed for power outages that temporarily knocked out power to about 250 Reno customers, including the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles’ main office in the city, and to about 6,000 customers around Tahoe City, Calif., on Tahoe’s north shore.
National Weather Service forecaster Shane Snyder said the snow was not expected to taper off in the region until Saturday morning. Another storm was expected late next week in the Sierra.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.