Friday, December 19, 2008

Las Vegas gets record Dec. snowfall, 3.6 inches

LAS VEGAS – Flights resumed in and out of Las Vegas, but schools and highways were closed Thursday after a record-setting snowfall coated marquees on the Strip, weighed down palm trees and blanketed surrounding mountain areas. The city awoke to clear weather after a storm that left 3.6 inches at McCarran International Airport. It was biggest December snowfall on record there, and the worst for any month since a 7 1/2-inch accumulation in January 1979, forecasters said.

In this photo provided by the Las Vegas News Bureau, people play in the snow in front of the Las Vegas welcome sign in Las Vegas on Wednesday, December 17, 2008. [Agencies]

The storm Wednesday and early Thursday also dumped snow or rain and snarled travel in other parts of Nevada, much of southern California and parts of northern Arizona.

"It looks like Whoville, all snowy, but with less joy and more extreme misery," said Calen Weiss, 19, who was stuck Wednesday when snow in the Cajon Pass east of Los Angeles disrupted travel on Interstate 15.

Cajon Pass and another leg of Interstate 15 near the Nevada line both reopened by midday Thursday, while Interstate 5, the major route between Northern and Southern California, partially reopened.

In Washington state, Seattle got a rare 4-inch accumulation, and in Spokane, the 17 inches piled up by 4 a.m. Thursday broke a 24-hour record total of 13 inches set in 1984. Spokane declared a "Condition Red" snow emergency, meaning crews will work around the clock until they complete a full city plow.

For Las Vegas, the storm left heavy wet accumulations of snow along the famed Strip. At least one carport toppled under the accumulated weight, authorities said, and motorists in Henderson parked their cars and walked home when tires spun as they tried to navigate slippery uphill climbs.

Thursday was the first snow day for Clark County schools since the 1979 storm, district spokesman Michael Rodriguez said.

Airlines resumed flights Thursday after canceling dozens of them late Wednesday, McCarran airport spokesman Jerry Pascual said.

"Visibility has lifted. The outlook for the day is much better," Pascual said as the sun rose Thursday. Pascual said just one flight had gotten out overnight and stranded travelers were forced to sleep on lounge seats and floors at the nation's sixth-busiest airport.

In Arizona, snow was widespread in the state's higher elevations, with 24-hour accumulations reaching 10 inches in Flagstaff by daybreak. By 10 a.m. Thursday, official weather service measurements had 18 inches of snow on the ground in Flagstaff. Authorities said major highways were open but advised drivers to be careful of packed snow and ice.

In western Washington, the Seattle School District had been mocked by some for closing schools Wednesday with just a threat of snow. The threat became a reality Thursday, and 4 inches of snow by midday left many drivers spinning their wheels on slippery roads.

The National Weather Service said the city even had an episode of "thundersnow" when a storm cell moved across Puget Sound.

Rachel Bjork, 36, waited in vain for a downtown bus at a stop in north Seattle as four outbound buses passed.

"I'm getting a little annoyed. It's cold," Bjork said. "I would suspect there's probably going to be four people at work. Usually there's 30."

In Kitsap County, across Puget Sound from Seattle, authorities said freezing weather may have claimed the life of a 36-year-old man who wandered from his house wearing only light clothing. Deputies said he had been ill and there was no evidence of foul play.

Even Malibu, Calif., got a dusting of snow Wednesday, as the usually balmy city saw a half-inch in the afternoon.

"It's kind of cool if you think about it, said Craig Levy, director of a juvenile detention camp. "It's kind of unusual to see snow in Malibu."

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World’s Biggest Things

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Toshiba 512GB Notebook SSD

Toshiba 512GB Notebook SSD

Toshiba on Thursday introduced what it says is the first 2.5-inch, 512-GB solid-state drive for notebooks.\
The vendor plans to showcase the storage device at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The new drive is one of a series of SSDs built with Toshiba's latest 43-nanometer manufacturing process.
The drives also will come in capacities of 64 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB, which will be available in 1.8-inch and 2.5-inch enclosures. Samples of the new products will be available in the first quarter of next year, with mass production scheduled for the second quarter. Toshiba did not disclose pricing.

Toshiba's second-generation SSDs include a multilevel cell controller that achieves read/write speeds of 240 MBps and 200 MBps, respectively. The drives also offer data encryption that complies with the Advanced Encryption Standard.

Other specs include a serial ATA-2 interface and a mean time between failures of 1 million hours. Depending on the model, the drives weigh from a half-ounce to about 2 ounces.

SSDs are typically lighter, are more durable, consume less power, and deliver higher performance than traditional hard-disk drives. The technology, however, costs much more per gigabyte than HDDs. As a result, SSDs are used in select applications, such as mini-laptops where less weight and more durability in a storage device are important.

Within the data center, SSDs have been targeted for applications that require faster transaction times.
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