Storms May Push Western Rivers to Flood

Persistent rain that threatened to push creeks and rivers over their banks turned to snow early Tuesday, easing flood threats across western Nevada and the Sierra.

South of Carson City, snow began falling before dawn after a day of heavy rain that had emergency personnel on high alert amid fears of a repeat of a New Year's Eve flood that caused more than $17 million damage.

Small creek and urban flood warnings that had been issued a day earlier for the Reno-Carson City area and eastern Sierra were canceled early Tuesday by the National Weather Service. A flood warning for the lower Truckee River at Vista east of Sparks remained in effect until 4 p.m.

A winter storm warning was posted for the Lake Tahoe region, where forecasters said up to 10 inches of snow was possible before the storm dissipated later in the day.

Total snow accumulations at the higher elevations could reach 3-5 feet, forecasters said.

Chains or snow tires were required on all mountain roadways, including Interstate 80 over Donner Summit and U.S. 50 over Echo Summit.

The snow was in stark contrast to a day earlier, when pelting rain and high snow levels caused streams, rivers and creeks to swell with rain water, runoff and melting snow.

The city of Sparks, hard hit by flooding two months earlier, declared an emergency Monday as crews, residents and businesses worked to fill sand bags and shore up banks along the Truckee River.

"We're focussing all of our resources to respond to a pending flood," Sparks Mayor Geno Martini said Monday afternoon.

"The declaration of emergency enables us to request aid from other jurisdictions, such as Washoe County and the state of Nevada," he said.

Some of the heaviest rain Monday fell along the Sierra in California north and west of Reno on Monday. A spotter for the weather service reported 2.8 inches of rain in less than 24 hours near Cromberg in Plumas County, with 2.7 inches near Sierraville in Sierra County and 2.1 inches near Jansesville in Lassen County.

The weather service said the region should get a brief reprieve on Wednesday before another, colder storm system moves in Thursday, bringing with it the potential for heavy snow in the mountains and western Nevada valleys, including the Reno-Carson City area.