Fast Storm, Then Clearing…And What To Do If You Fall Through the Ice

After a quick passage of an inside slider type of storm (that only has a slight chance of producing precipitation in the Reno area, but has a better chance of putting down some snow to our south), our skies should clear out this weekend with some chilly temperatures left behind. Reno’s high will struggle to get to 40 degrees, with Sunday morning’s low dropping back to the low 20s and teens. Temperatures gradually warm back to the mid-50s by Tuesday before another similar storm moves through the region with mainly valley rain and snow showers on Wednesday.

Fall through the ice 1

With the cold weather, there is always a temptation to walk (or skate) on some of the frozen ponds or lakes in the area. I don’t recommend it. But what should you do if the worst happens, and you fall through the ice? First of all, don’t panic. Don’t try to climb out… you’ll probably just break the ice again. Lay both arms on the unbroken ice and kick hard. Spread your weight out on the ice as far as you can. Once you get up on the ice enough, roll to safety… don’t try to stand.

fall through the ice 2

Of course you should make sure you always have another person nearby (although not right next to you). What if you see a friend go in?

If you see someone break through the ice on a lake, lie down on the ice, and reach out with a branch, a rope or a plank. DO NOT STAND! If there are more people, form a human chain, then wiggle backwards away from the break once you have him. Immediately treat the victim for hypothermia.

And then wait a little longer in the season before you try to go back out on the ice.



Knocking The Haze Out…And A Possible Inside Slider

We have one more day of hazy conditions as a chilly cold front drops down out of the north late Friday night helping to clear out the inversions. On Friday, the day will start sunny but hazy, with some clouds moving in late in the day. Winds won’t be real strong, but they should be enough to knock out the inversions and clear out the haze.


The real wildcard is if an inside slider storm develops. Sliders are notoriously hard to predict, and the models aren’t making this system very cut and dry either. But there is about a 20% chance that some rain and snow could develop over Reno between midnight and sunrise. While accumulations are unlikely, sliders have been known to throw in surprise buildups, so while it is unlikely to happen, an inch or two would not be impossible. Regardless, the skies should clear over western Nevada before the afternoon.

Temperatures will drop from the mid-50s on Friday to the mid-40s Saturday, and will slowly rebound to the low-50s by the beginning of next week. Our next chance for some rain and/or snow comes in on Wednesday.


Haze End in Sight…and What Not To Do If You Freeze a Pipe.

The haze will likely stick around for the rest of the work week, with a chilly system dropping in late Friday night that will not only cool us off, but should also clear out the valley haze. The system does have a slight chance of giving us an “inside slider” snow shower early Saturday morning, but in all likelihood it will be a dry cold front, and sunny skies will return by Saturday afternoon. High temperatures will slowly climb into the mid-50s by Friday, and will then fallback into the 40s over the weekend.


With these very cold temperatures, it’s good to know how to shut off the water in a frozen emergency, and you should always keep a plumber’s phone number handy just in case.

Even if you take all precautions, stuff does happen, and even the best laid plans can result in that uncomfortable silence when you turn on the taps of the shower on a cold morning. If you do happen to freeze a pipe, don’t try to thaw it with a propane torch. A lot of houses burn down by homeowners with that thought in mind.



Sunny And Hazy…And Is Nevada The Driest State?

Strong high pressure over our area will keep our dry and hazy conditions in place through the rest of the work week. Cold air inversions will keep our high temperatures in the upper 40s in the valleys, while the mountains could climb into the low 50s. As the week progresses, the inversions will weaken and our temperatures could climb into the low 50s by Thursday. On Friday, a weak cold front passing through the Pacific Northwest has a chance of breaking the inversion down here, but it is possible it will be too weak to do so. Temperatures should climb well into the 50s over the weekend, but the dry weather will continue.

Nevada Desert

Vicki writes: “We have lived in Reno since 1982 moving here from central Arizona (Prescott), about the same elevation as Reno.  I didn’t think there would be much difference in the humidity between the 2 states, but it seems there is.  I believe I heard once that Nevada is the “driest” of all 50 states. Is that true?”

Indeed it is. There are a couple of ways a state can earn that title: First by the least overall precipitation, and second by the lowest humidity. In our case, Nevada probably wins by either definition. Checking rainfall totals certainly puts Nevada in the driest state category. As for humidity, while Arizona is still pretty dry, they do get more of a monsoonal flow in the summertime, and their humidities are higher as a result.


Sunny and Hazy…And A Review of the Burn Codes

Strong valley inversions will continue to produce hazy conditions with light winds and chilly temperatures…especially at night. Air quality could deteriorate to the point where there could be some mandatory wood burning restrictions; although at last check those cutbacks were voluntary (we have a Yellow Light for the burn code). The capping ridge of high pressure will stay over the region through most of the work week, with mountain temperatures as warm if not warmer than the valleys throughout. On Friday, a weak front will pass by to our north which could give us enough wind to finally clear out the stagnant air. The weekend is looking mostly sunny and mild.

Burn Codes

It’s probably a good time to go over the burn codes again. A Green Light means that there are no restrictions to burning wood (fireplaces, wood and pellet stoves, etc…) in Washoe County. A Yellow Light means the air quality is marginal, and in an attempt to keep it from getting unhealthy we are being asked to voluntarily cut back on any burning.

Once the air quality reaches the unhealthy range, a Red Light Burn Ban can be issued, and it is mandatory that all burning cease. For more info go to



Near Perfect Weather for Sharing Your Christmas

The stubborn ridge of high pressure over the Great Basin is showing no signs of folding, and as a result sunny skies, light winds and varying amounts of haze will stay with us through the next week or so. Valley temperatures in the low 50s will be matched by similar marks at Lake Tahoe, and light winds will be unable to mix out the capping inversion. At this point the dry spell is likely to last for another ten days at least.

Share your Christmas

Over the last 25 years, we’ve had all kinds of weather on the second Friday in December, from driving snowstorms to high winds to sunny and warm. They are all memorable to me not because of the specific weather we had, but because of all the people who contribute to and benefit from our Share Your Christmas Drive-By Food Drive. I hope you can make it out this Friday to the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City or the Carson Valley Inn in Minden for the 25th anniversary edition. We will be manning all those locations from 6 am-6 pm, with all the food (non-perishable please!) and money staying in the local communities. I’ll be at the GSR  all day and I hope to see you there!


Cold Nights, Mild Days…And Should You Close Your Foundation Vents (Pt 3)?

There is still no appreciable change to the forecast over the next week or so, as a massive ridge of high pressure stays put nearly right on top of us. Cold air pooling under clear skies will give us cold mornings in the teens through Friday with afternoon highs reaching the low 50s by Friday both in the valley and up at Lake Tahoe. The similar mountain and valley temperatures reflect a strong temperature inversion which will also trap pollutants in the valleys, so hazy conditions are likely to increase over the next several days.

Foundation vent

Yesterday I mentioned that closing foundation vents could result in trapping moisture under your house. Moisture isn’t the only reason to keep the vents open. If you live in an area with high radon concentrations, and there are many areas here in western Nevada and the Tahoe Basin where radon is a real issue, you must keep your crawlspace well ventilated all year long. It’s another good reason to insulate your sub floor instead of the foundation.


By the way, if you haven’t ever tested your house for radon leakage (it occurs naturally around here, but in widely different concentrations), then I’d highly recommend you get a self-testing kit. They are readily available and worth the minor expense.



Sunny, Cool and Hazy…And Should You Close Your Foundation Vents (Pt 2)?

A strong ridge of high pressure will keep our skies sunny (although some haze is likely) and our temperatures generally mild, although overnight low temperatures will be quite cold. The high pressure ridge sitting over us will cap some pretty strong inversions and thus air quality is likely to deteriorate as we head through the week. The pattern remains essentially unchanged for the next seven days.

Foundation vent 2

Yesterday I asked whether one should close foundation vents in the winter. While it makes sense on the surface to close them, I have had several building experts tell me that it is a bad idea. The problem is that closed vents can trap moisture under your home, and that can lead to moisture condensation along the rim joists and mud sill. In addition to that, mold and fungus not only like moisture, they also prefer a steady temperature. With the vents closed, the lack of temperature differences in the day and nighttimes could promote mold and fungus growth.

foundation vent 3

How your crawl space is insulated might come into play. Check under your crawl space. If your foundation is insulated, you will have to make a decision whether you prefer moisture under the house (closed vents), or higher heating bills (open vents). Insulating the sub floor instead of the foundation is a good solution to solve both problems, since you can keep the vents open without losing heat.


Cold Nights, Hazy Days… And Should You Close Your Foundation Vents?


It’s a pretty simple forecast this week as a large and very stationary ridge of high pressure will keep our skies clear through the next week. The only caveat to the clear skies description is with the large ridge in place, it will cap off some pretty strong temperature inversions in the valleys, so the high temperatures in Reno will stay in the 40s for the next three days, with highs at Tahoe within a few degrees from those in the valley. Overnight lows will be quite cold, dropping to the teens to low 20s all week.

foundation vent4

These cold nights should have already been a reminder to get our homes winterized. That includes the standard things like changing furnace filters, installing weather stripping, and sealing up foundation vents.

foundation vent 3

Wait a minute… foundation vents? Should they really be closed in the winter? That depends on how your house is constructed, and who you ask. At first blush, it makes sense that you would want to close them up in the winter so that you don’t let cold air into your crawl space, which would make your floor colder and drive up heating costs. And there are several people out there who would agree with that. But it may not be that simple. More tomorrow.


Cold Weather Coming

As we head into the weekend, the mild weather that we’ve had to finish off November will give way to a more wintry feel, and a couple of snow showers on Sunday aren’t out of the question. For Saturday, clouds will increase late in the day, and winds will pick up ahead of a cold front which will bring some mountain snow overnight. Snow amounts in the mountains are going to be modest, with the passes possibly getting a few inches out of the deal. The front passes through the region dropping snow levels down to the valley sometime Sunday morning. By that time there won’t be a lot of moisture left, so I don’t anticipate any valley accumulations.


The one wild card in the mix is the possibility of getting some Lake Effect snowfall off the southeast corners of Tahoe and Pyramid as the cold air passes over the large bodies of water. It’s not likely there will be a lot of that, but there is a slight chance that could occur.

For the rest of the week, valley inversions will combine with sunny skies to create hazy conditions with morning lows in the upper teens to low 20s.