Lighting strikes, mudslides, flash floods: AM weather roundup

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Lighting strikes, mudslides, flash floods: AM weather roundup

Lighting storms and a lot of rain had mixed effects on a handful of wildfires Tuesday evening. At last report, firefighters are making progress on the largest wildfire near Red Rock Road, which spread to more than 5,400 acres and moved north into Washoe County in the afternoon.

That fire is now 40% contained, although some structures are threatened and measures are being taken to protect property. The heavy storms that dumped rain on much of the Sierra and Tahoe Basin helped quell some of the Red Rock Fire and officials say it should be fully contained by Friday.

Meanwhile, small lightning strikes from those same storms sparked several fires in the Pine Nut Mountains, Caughlin Ranch area and Douglas County. At last report, rain had also stifled those blazes and managed to keep them all quite small.

In addition, heavy afternoon rain in the Truckee River Canyon west of Reno caused a mudslide that closed Interstate 80 in both directions. That was about 1.5 miles west of the California-Nevada line. Crews worked into the night to clear the road, which was fully opened by 10 p.m.

And after all that excitement, another hot day with thunderstorms is expected to sweep through the region, again bringing risks of flooding and fires.

Flash flooding of urban areas and small stream drainages is possible in the eastern Sierra, Northeast California, far northwest Nevada and the Sierra front including the Reno and Carson City area.

With all that weather, many folks probably got used to hearing their Smartphones buzz uncontrollably (or at least more than usual). It wasn't a text message or a missed call. It was the National Weather Service.

Jon Middlestadt with the NWS in Reno says the alerts are easy to customize and are part of a new technology.

"Potentially there could be a flash flood warning in one location and a flash flood warning over the desert. "

Federal and local officials can also use the service to notify people of an amber alert, evacuation, or other emergency.

The alert messages include a special tone and vibration that repeats, unlike a usual text message or email.

"One big difference is that it will pop up and force you to acknowledge it. Where you may have your settings personalized for your other text message, this service does force you to acknowledge the message."

If you're traveling you'll receive notifications for the location you're in and not your home town. Officials have no way yet of individually managing settings for where you'll receive alerts.

Most current Smartphones are compatible with the service and you won't be charged extra. However, while all the major cell phone companies are partnered with the service not all carriers are involved yet.