Northern Nevada shivered today in bone-chilling temperatures, and forecasters said colder weather was yet to come in the state, with tourists possibly seeing snow flurries over the weekend against the neon marquees of the Las Vegas Strip.
National Weather Service meteorologist Clay Morgan in Las Vegas said trace accumulations of snow were possible Saturday in hillside neighborhoods north and west of downtown Sin City, but measurable snow wasn’t likely amid the casino resorts on Las Vegas Boulevard.
Snow showers last fell on Las Vegas Boulevard last Jan. 28 and about a month earlier on Dec. 26, 2012. A winter storm in mid-December 2008 left more than 3 inches at McCarran International Airport.
"This should be a very quick hit," Morgan said of the coming cold weather, "even colder than we’ve had."
Below-freezing temperatures that prompted nighttime hard freeze warnings in and around Las Vegas were expected plunge even further after the storm. Some forecasts projected temperatures in the teens early Tuesday in suburban Henderson.
The Las Vegas Strip usually gets a snow show several times each winter.
Mountains outside Las Vegas could get up to 4 inches of new snow this weekend at elevations above 3,000 feet, Morgan said.
Bitter cold was already gripping the northern half of the state, with snow forecast beginning Friday night in the Sierra Nevada and moving across the Great Basin toward places where overnight temperatures have been frigid for several days.
A winter storm warning was posted from 4 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Saturday in Reno and the Lake Tahoe area, with up to 2 feet of snow possible in the mountains and up to 6 inches on valley floors.
At Lake Tahoe, winds gusting to 30 mph at lower elevations and 80 mph on mountaintops could produce blowing snow and dangerous conditions across several passes Friday night and Saturday, the weather service warned.
"It’s got quite a punch with it," meteorologist Scott McGuire said of the second storm to hit the region this week. "It’s going to be pretty dangerous out there."
The University of Nevada, Reno, announced that Saturday morning winter commencement ceremonies would be delayed one hour in anticipation of snowy and frosty conditions.
Temperatures in Reno dipped to 11 degrees early Friday and were forecast to flirt with zero by Sunday morning.
Lake Tahoe’s predicted low of 16 degrees on Saturday was expected to plummet to 1 below zero by Sunday morning.
"We won’t start warming up until Tuesday," said Jessica Kielhorn, meteorologist technician at the National Weather Service in Reno.
In northeastern Nevada, the 19 degrees below zero reading early Friday in Ely was warmer than the record 23 below zero registered there Thursday.
Temperatures were also below zero early Friday in Elko, while the mercury registered minus 10 in Eureka.
The cold caused a water main to burst Thursday night in Sparks, turning a street in front of Reed High School into a skating rink and forcing traffic to be rerouted until about 6 a.m. Crews had the area cleared for Friday classes.
Ritter reported from Las Vegas. Sonner reported from Reno.