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Storm moving slow

B.H. Bose

While just about everything is being blamed on El Nino these days, the storm that hit the area Tuesday and expected to last through today definitely qualifies.

The storm, which is moving east at a “very slow rate,” according to Steve Downs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, brought heavy rain and snow to the Tahoe Basin Wednesday. The same conditions should persist through the next couple of days.

“Thursday should be partly cloudy and a bit warmer,” Downs said Wednesday afternoon. “There is still, however, a good chance of afternoon thunderstorms, especially along the mountains.”

The lingering wet weather can be blamed on a slow-moving low pressure system, which is in no hurry to move out of the area.

“It is moving east very slowly, leaving a chance of scattered showers through Thursday afternoon.” Downs said. “The forecast for Friday through Sunday calls for a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms.”

Downs added that while this type of spring storm is not normal for this time of year, it is consistent with what the area has witnessed the last few years.

“This is not really a typical May storm, but it has been pretty wet the last three years (at this time),” Downs said.

South Lake Tahoe reported receiving .92 inches of precipitation, while Truckee reported .64 and Blue Canyon .81. Reports were received late Wednesday afternoon.

To illustrate how wet of a year it has been, Downs pointed out that the average annual precipitation for the Reno area is 6.84 inches. So far this year, Reno has received 8.94 inches.

As for the highways, the storm Wednesday prompted slow-moving conditions and several accidents, but the roads remained open with controls (as of Wednesday afternoon).

“We really haven’t had any bad storm closures, knock on wood. It looks as though the roads are open (Highway 50 and Interstate 80) with chain controls on all vehicles except 4-wheel-drives,” said Jim Drago, spokesman with the California Department of Transportation, Wednesday.

Despite the many El Nino-driven storms this winter and spring, highway closures have been less than expected.

“El Nino, on a transportation standpoint, has spared us major problems – except for Highway 1,” Drago said. “You are always going to have weather-related problems and accidents, but there has been nothing major thus far.”

Still, Drago is surprised by the recent stormy weather.

“Here it is May and we are having chain controls. That is pretty amazing. Not bad for skiers though,” he said.

The snow level is expected to be 7,500 feet, rising to 8,000 feet overnight. The winds should be light today, with strong gusts at higher elevations.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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