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70 MPH Winds Topple Trucks, Spur Power Outages

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A spring storm packing winds gusting in excess of 70 mph (113 kph) overturned semi-trailer trucks, toppled trees and sent power lines down onto cars near the Las Vegas Strip on Thursday, snarling traffic and causing widespread power outages.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries, but NV Energy said Thursday night more than 40,000 people remained without power in the Las Vegas area.

The fast-moving cold front shook Nevada from top to bottom Thursday, dropping more snow in the Sierra Nevada and pelting the middle of the state with rain and hail as it barreled off to the northeast where as much as a foot of snow was possible in the mountains of Elko County. A winter weather advisory remained in effect there until 5 a.m. Friday.

In Las Vegas, the winds snapped a series of telephone poles a few blocks east of the Strip where power lines fell on several cars. The National Weather Service recorded winds gusting to 82 mph (132 kph) at the Red Rock Conservation Area west of Las Vegas, 71 mph (114 kph) in North Las Vegas and 60 mph (97 kph) at McCarran International Airport, where numerous flights have been delayed.

Authorities warned motorists to stay off area highways due to the winds and blowing dust that caused poor visibility across much of southern Nevada, California’s San Bernardino County and northwest Arizona. The Clark County Department of Air Quality in Las Vegas issued a dust advisory through Friday morning.

The Nevada Highway Patrol blamed the wind for two tractor-trailer rollover crashes, including one that blocked U.S. Interstate 15 near the St. Rose Parkway overpass just south of Las Vegas and one on the overpass itself.

Both trucks were traveling empty, and neither driver was reported to be seriously hurt, Trooper Jason Buratczuk said. He said another big rig rollover was reported on U.S. 95 in the Nye County community of Pahrump.

As many as 4,000 power outages were reported in northern Nevada earlier in the day, mostly in Humboldt County along Interstate 80 about 170 miles (274 kilometers) east of Reno.

In Reno, snow flurries mixed with blowing cherry blossoms in alternating sunny and blustery, overcast conditions. Further east, thunderstorms with winds up to 50 mph (80 kph) and half-inch sized hail was reported along U.S. Highway 50 near Austin.

The forecast for Elko and much of northeast Nevada into Friday called for winds gusting to 55 mph (88.5 kph) with up to 4 inches of snow in the valleys, 6 to 12 in the Ruby Mountains. The National Weather Service said gusts reached 64 mph (103 kph) in Tonopah and 63 mph (101 kph) near Great Basin National Park on the Nevada-Utah line east of Ely.
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Sonner reported from Reno, Nevada.

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