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Cold temperatures keep snow in Sparks
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jan 07, 2014 | 2574 views | 0 0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Temperatures dipping below freezing have kept plowed and leftover snow from December's storms on Rail City streets, sidewalks and in its neighborhoods. Officials said Tuesday few calls have come in about the snow affecting residents.
Tribune photo by Garrett Valenzuela -- Temperatures dipping below freezing have kept plowed and leftover snow from December's storms on Rail City streets, sidewalks and in its neighborhoods. Officials said Tuesday few calls have come in about the snow affecting residents.
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Sparks residents may not have to worry about the below freezing temperatures happening in the mid-western and southern United States, but icy and slick conditions still exist in the Rail City. Fortunately, the small amount of snow and ice that remains in the city lies in the shaded areas, usually on the north side of homes, buildings and other structures.

City of Sparks road crews have not had an issue with any snow refusing to melt from various spots on city streets or sidewalks, and City of Sparks Community Relations Manager Adam Mayberry said Tuesday the high-desert city is not accustomed to having snow remain on the streets once major storms have come and gone.

"City crews will certainly respond on a case by case (basis) to heavy traffic (pedestrian and vehicle) areas)to make an effort to lessen the ice," Mayberry said via email Tuesday, "But at the end of the day, there is only so much that sand and salt and other elements can do to get rid of the ice during these kinds of temperatures."

Mayberry said home and business owners are responsible for plowing and removing snow in front of their properties, while the city takes care of local parks and other public areas. Mayberry said Sparks residents play an important role in keeping their neighborhoods safe during freezing weather conditions.

"We always remind our residents to look out after their disabled or elderly neighbors and remove snow and ice, and apply some of their own salt to those high-use areas," Mayberry said.

The Nevada Department of Transportation has noticed a few areas of major highways and freeways where snow may melt during the day but freezes overnight causing icy areas. Public Information Officer Scott Magruder said Tuesday very few motorists have notified NDOT of problems with leftover snow, however he said early morning and late-night commutes should be done with caution.

"I think local streets have those (shaded, snowy) areas more than the roads we oversee, but anyone driving around town should be cautious because those areas often are in neighborhoods and unfamiliar areas," he said. "For us, we try to clear the remaining snow on the sides of the roadways, and if we can, we will go out and sand those areas and layer it so there is some traction. In a worst-case scenario we would put up a sign so people are aware, but nothing like that has needed to be done."

Magruder said many northern Nevadans understand that the freezing temperatures will bring slick conditions, but he said it never hurts to remind pedestrians and motorists that until the region really warms up to be aware of icy roads.

"Basically, it comes down to people being aware of it," Magruder said. "It is good to remind people that just because the sun is out a little more often than during those storms in December, it doesn't mean we are clear of all weather-related hazards."

Local neighborhoods are also home to shaded areas that cause packed snow and ice to accumulate, which can pose a threat to homeowners who have not properly 'winterized' their homes. Brent Smith, coordinator of field and meter services for Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA), said the number of calls coming in about frozen or burst pipes has significantly declined in recent weeks, but he said homeowners should note any ice around their homes near major pipes.

"The shady sides of your house are usually OK, but north-facing walls enclosing bathrooms and pipes need more attention," Smith said. "We recommend keeping the temperature a little higher, at least 55 degrees, in the house or those north-facing rooms to prevent any freezing in the pipes."

Smith said TMWA does not promote wasting water, but in some cases leaving a faucet on a slow drip can keep enough flow in the water line to prevent freezing during absence. However, preparing indoor and outdoor water pipes for winter trumps any solution when it comes to freezing temperatures, which is why TMWA offers its free irrigation winterization workshop each year.

"We really want to help people keep their homes from flooding or broken pipes," Smith said. "Some people are unfamiliar with the process and it can be costly to have a plumber do it. We have the hands-on tools to help people better understand their irrigation systems and, in that way, we can help them understand how to handle an emergency in their home during the coldest parts of winter."

Sparks residents can contact the City of Sparks at 353-5555 to report any snow on local streets that needs removal. More information about winterizing your irrigation system and home water pipes can be found at tmwa.com/conservation/winterize.
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