Expect only a light dusting this week | RecordCourier.com

Expect only a light dusting this week

by Regina Purcell, Staff Writer

After nearly two weeks of winter snowstorms, Carson Valley can expect only a light dusting over this holiday week.

The National Weather Service calls for snow in higher elevations, but doesn’t expect much accumulation. The Lake Tahoe area has a 50 percent chance of snow each day this week, but in the Valley that chance for snow falls to 20 percent.

“Most of the Christmas white is already on the ground,” said Al Cox, weather service specialist. “There might be a light dusting in the Valley, but nothing like we have seen in the past week or so.”

Cox said winds are not expected to hit 90 mph, but rather in the 10-15 mph range. Although on Thursday, he said winds may pick up to 25-30 mph.

Electricity is not out in any neighborhood as many celebrate Christmas, and Sierra Pacific Power Co. lifted its the energy conservation request.

“Officially we are done,” said Gary Aldax, spokesman for Sierra Pacific, which lost more than 100 power poles in Northern Nevada during the worst storm the valley has seen in four years that hit Dec. 14.

In Douglas County alone, one-third of the power company’s poles were broken, snapped off or toppled — many along Buckeye Road in Minden.

“The guys out there are glad to be done, too,” Aldax said.

At one point, thousands of residents were without electricity, with the hardest hit areas in Ruhenstroth and Alpine County, Calif. Some homes did not have power for nearly 90 hours.

Aldax said, on average, Sierra Pacific receives 30,000 calls per month. During the six-day storm period, he said they were getting 10,000 telephone calls per day.

Calls that didn’t get through locally were diverted to a call center in Nebraska, he said.

The damage was substantial.

The distribution poles, which deliver electricity to residential areas, cost about $5,000 to replace, including labor, materials, transportation and overhead. Aldax said the subtransmission lines, which distribute power from Carson Valley to Lake Tahoe, cost about $20,000 to replace.

This storm could end up costing every power company customer.

At the end of the year, Aldax said the power company reports all expenses to the Public Utilities Commission, which then reviews it for accuracy. The final figure determines if power costs will rise. Aldax said increased power costs will be passed on to customers.

“Most of the poles that had to be replaced where on the low end,” he said. “But, certainly, there was a lot of damage.”

The Nevada Department of Transportation said, with the series of storms, they have done a “good enough job to keep everything open.”

Scott Magruder of NDOT said while there was low visibility on Highway 395 through the Washoe Valley, special precautions were lifted Friday evening.

“We had a ton of snow in the mountains, but overall we are going pretty good,” he said. “There might be a small bit of snow coming, but even on Christmas we will have crews on standby, just in case.”

Magruder reported no major problems this week.

“We have kept Highway 207 open, and Mount Rose,” he said. “It is a busy time, but it is all open for skiers.

“And if it comes, we are ready for the next wave. We have plenty of sand and salt.”

The latest storm, which hit last Friday, caused a few automobile accidents on Highway 395 in north Douglas County, but there were no substantial injuries.

Terry Taylor, captain of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts, said black ice was the cause of a few rollovers and fender benders.

“Actually, things have been pretty quiet,” he said. “People have been well-behaved.”

Taylor said there have been some problems with fire systems acting up because of the power outages. Systems at the Douglas County Transfer Station and at the Pit Road and Short Court commercial building in the Gardnerville Ranchos have been repaired, he said.

— Regina Purcell can be e-mailed at rpurcell@recordcourier.com