RENO, Nev. (AP) — Emergency crews rescued more than a dozen people Friday from flood waters in northern Nevada, and authorities warned residents on Lake Tahoe’s north shore to stay in their homes due to the threat of avalanches after nearly 3 feet of new snow fell on the mountain tops overnight.
Mudslides and rockslides temporarily closed two major highways from Nevada to Lake Tahoe and restricted travel on U.S. Interstate 80 over the Sierra Nevada near Truckee, California.
In northeast Nevada, authorities were bracing for what they said could be some of the worst flooding in more than 30 years by the end of the weekend.
Heavy rains fueled much of the flooding in the western state while unusually warm temperatures sped the snowmelt farther east.
The high temperature reached a record 67 degrees in Winnemucca on Thursday, breaking the old mark of 65 set in 1963
In Reno, emergency crews in boats rescued three men who apparently were homeless and holed up in an abandoned shed along the Truckee River. The crews responded when a TV news crew called 911 after hearing a man shouting for help.
“It sounds like that’s where they were living,” Reno Fire Battalion Chief John McNamara told KOLO-TV.
One of the men was taken to a hospital for treatment of possible hypothermia. Otherwise, no injuries have been reported and the river was receding as skies started to clear.
Douglas County sheriff’s crews rescued 10 people stranded by high waters near the Carson River.
Sgt. Bernadette Smith said they used an armored vehicle assigned to the SWAT team to pick up the group that included several children and didn’t want to cross a large stretch of moving water near U.S. Highway 395 north of Minden.
The highway was closed in both directions due to flooding. Some motorists were ignoring warnings to stay out of moving water, Smith said.
“On my way to the dispatch center, I saw people driving around ‘road closed’ signs,” she said.
A shelter was set up at a community center after voluntary evacuations at two mobile home parks in Gardnerville. A half-dozen people showed up, but only two spent the night, Smith said. The center remained open in case there’s more flooding.
The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District issued an avalanche alert for a subdivision in Crystal Bay on the California line. The Sierra Avalanche Center said large, human-triggered avalanches were likely due to gale force winds and heavy snow.
Westbound trucks were being stopped on I-80 west of Reno at the California line due to a mudslide near Truckee, but passenger travel continued.
Nevada transportations officials reopened the Mount Rose Highway from Reno to Tahoe and the Kingsbury Grade from the Carson Valley to Tahoe after they had been closed because of debris on the road. U.S. Highway 50 remained shut down on the lake’s east shore near Cave Rock where several huge boulders have fallen in recent days.
In northeast Nevada, U.S. Highway 93 remained closed from Wells to the Idaho line. State Route 233 remained closed from Montello to the Utah line after an earthen dam burst earlier in the week.
National Weather Service meteorologist Jeremy Michael told the Elko Daily Free Press the Humboldt River had risen higher than at any point since May 1984. It’s expected to exceed flood stage on Sunday. Michael said it could result in major damage to roads, structures and railroads, and potential loss of cattle in the flood plain.