It looks like we are moving back into an active weather pattern. A low pressure center is moving slowly onshore, and the strongest part of the storm will pass through on Friday, with high winds accompanying valley rain and mountain snow and rain. The Reno area is under a wind advisory for Friday and the mountains above 6,500’ (the approximate snow level) are under a Winter Storm Warning until early Saturday morning. A lessening of the storm pattern occurs late Saturday through mid-Sunday, when another storm moves through with more mountain snow and valley rain through Monday.
Virginia City isn’t the only high-elevation community to run on the warm side. Austin, Tonopah, and even Incline Village often trend warmer on calm and clear nights. Local topography plays a critical role. One of the coldest combinations you can get is to have a high elevation community location in an enclosed basin. Some notables are Truckee (where the official temperature is taken at the airport, which sits in a “bowl”), Ely, Bridgeport, and Eureka. Perhaps the best example is up in the ghost town of Bodie, California. Now a state park, Bodie sits up in a closed bowl at an elevation of 8,375 feet, just to the north of Bridgeport. It averages only a few degrees above zero Fahrenheit for the nighttime low December through February, and has been known to drop as low as -33 F.
Hmm… it’s no wonder it’s now a ghost town.