Windstorm wreaks havoc on capital city - snow coming?

Winds gusting up to 60 mph whipped through Northern Nevada on Wednesday, knocking out stoplights in Carson City, sending tree limbs into power lines and fanning wildfires.

Power went out at the Carson City Sheriff's Department about 2:30 p.m.

"Right now it's organized chaos," said Sheriff Kenny Furlong. "There are trees coming down onto power lines all over town."

The winds tested the capabilities of the office - which relied on its emergency generator - but did not overwhelm the staff, he said.

Deputies were directing traffic at intersections along Roop Street, including Highway 50 East and Robinson Street. City street crews were directing traffic where Fifth Street intersects Roop and also where it meets Stewart Street. Two power lines were arcing on Minnesota and Third streets while a tree branch was hanging on power lines in the parking lot of Carson-Tahoe Hospital.

Second Street was closed between Pratt and Harbin streets around 2:45 p.m. when branches in a cottonwood tree hit power lines.

"There were three loud booms and a flash of green light," said sheriff's deputy Donald White, who had his patrol car parked in front of Greater Nevada Credit Union. "I thought someone was bombing the bank."

At Mills Park vendors preparing for the carnival struggled to secure their shade structures. Carnival ride operators weren't having any trouble, however, said Zipper operator Jim West.

"We chain the Zipper down to a truck so it won't blow over," he said. The gondolas on the Ferris wheel rocked Wednesday as thousands of golden leaves - some still attached to branches - scurried across the grass.

On the southwest end of town, long plumes of dust blew off the recently scorched peaks. Below, a 50-gallon garbage can skidded upright across the old Wal-Mart parking lot from the House of the Living Dead 3-D haunted house, which opens tonight.

Douglas County firefighters responded to two blazes along Highway 395 south of Gardnerville.

The first fire consumed about an acre and started 9:30 a.m. a half-mile north of the junction of highways 395 and 28, known as Holbrook Junction.

The fire came extremely close to several houses in a mobile home park at the base of a hill about 40 feet from the side the highway, but no structures were damaged.

East Fork Fire and Paramedics Districts Deputy Chief Dave Drew said the efforts from Pierce and other citizens helped contain the fire.

A second fire started when a diesel truck traveling south through the Pine Nut Mountains on Highway 395 caught fire at about 11:30 a.m.

The tractor end of the truck was destroyed while the front end of the trailer was damaged but most of the cargo just suffered smoke damage.

Gusts of 65 mph were recorded in Washoe Valley north of Carson City.

As the truck pulled off to the side of the road, a patch of brush along the road caught fire, and burned about a 50-square-foot area before firefighters contained it.

The National Weather Service issued a high-wind warning which lasted into the evening, said Steve Goldstein, a forecaster with the weather service in Reno.

Today is expected to be cloudy and windy with a chance of snow showers. The snow level could drop as low as 4,500 feet - well below the capital city. Although the high temperature may climb to 50 degrees, gusty winds out of the northwest are expected through the day. Tonight the snow level could drop to 3,500 feet and temperatures could be as low as the teens.

Trick-or-treaters should wear warm costumes Friday night. Halloween should be mostly cloudy with the possibility of snow showers and lows around 23 degrees.

The Nevada Day Parade on Saturday will be cold, too. Folks crowded along Carson Street can expect highs around 48 degrees. That night, the skies are expected to clear, and temperatures may drop into the teens.

The clearing is expected to continue into Sunday. Forecasters are calling for a mostly sunny day with highs about 45 degrees. Then it's back to the stormy weather - a major system is expected to arrive Monday.

"That's the first chance of decent snow fall in the mountains," said Goldstein.


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