an elevation of 4,400 feet above mean sea level, Reno is
located on the western edge of the Great Basin, in
a semi-arid valley just east of the Sierra Nevada Mountain
Range. To the west, the Sierra rises to elevations of 9,000
to 11,000 feet. Lower mountains to the east reach 6,000
to 7,000 feet. The Truckee River, flowing from the Sierra
eastward through Reno, drains into Pyramid Lake some 40
miles northeast of the city.
Daily temperatures on the whole are mild, but the difference
between the highs and lows can exceed 45 degrees. While
a summer afternoon high may exceed 90 degrees, a light
jacket or sweater is often needed after sunset. Nights
with low temperatures over 60 degrees are rare. Afternoon
temperatures in the winter are moderate.
With it's relatively high elevation and very low humidity,
the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area has a short growing
season. Based on 1971-2000 weather records
from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, the average
first occurrence of 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the fall
is September 16 and the average last occurrence in the
spring is June 1.
More than half of the annual precipitation in Reno falls
from December to March. Although there is an average of
about 25 inches of snow a year, a single storm usually
drops no more than 2 or three inches. Snow seldom
remains on the ground for more than three or four days
at a time. Summer rain comes mainly as brief thunderstorms
in the middle and late afternoon. While annual precipitation
averages only 7.5 inches, a secure water supply
is available from reservoirs in the Sierra Nevada, where
winter snowfall is heavy.
Humidity is very low during the summer months, and moderately
low during the winter. Fogs are rare, and are usually
confined to the early morning hours of midwinter. Sunshine
is abundant throughout the year, with an annual average
of 80% of possible sunshine.