RENO, Nev. – An early winter storm that chased record heat out of northern Nevada has swamped Reno with record-setting rain and dropped enough snow at the top of the Sierra to close a mountain highway pass near Lake Tahoe.
A series of thunderstorms also rumbled through Arizona, bringing high winds and heavy rains that downed power lines and damaged homes in the Phoenix area. The storms also flooded freeways and underpasses and disrupted air travel at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
In Nevada, the National Weather Service extended a winter weather advisory through late Tuesday afternoon for Reno, Tahoe and Carson City. Temperatures were in the upper 40s in Reno at midday Tuesday after setting record highs in the mid-90s a week ago.
More than an inch of rain (1.09) fell at Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Monday, breaking the old record of 0.23 set in 1994. Snow forced the closure of California Highway 89 at Monitor Pass south of Tahoe Tuesday.
In the Phoenix area, a microburst downed 19 power poles, at least three of which landed on homes, Mesa fire Capt. Forrest Smith said. In all, 38 homes were damaged by the storm, 12 severely, and about 100 people were displaced, Smith said.
Officials at Sky Harbor said incoming and departing flights were halted for nearly an hour. More than a dozen flights were diverted to other airports, and some had yet to make it into Phoenix several hours after the storm rolled through.
By the time the airport was reopened for takeoffs, an estimated 50 jetliners were lined up on taxiways waiting to leave.
The storms also flooded roads and dropped half-inch-size hail in parts of Phoenix. The Arizona Department of Transportation said flooding caused major backups on Interstate 10 and U.S. 60.
A severe weather watch remains in effect until 7 p.m. for central Arizona.
Concerns about rough weather delayed the America's Challenge gas balloon race in Albuquerque, N.M., which initially was scheduled for Tuesday. The race is now slated to lift off Thursday night.