Microclimates play a huge role in our weather, impacting everything from temperature, to wind, and even snow amounts. Not only can you wait five minutes for the weather to change in our area, but you can also drive a few minutes for the weather to be different as well. 

Besides elevation, another thing that changes as you drive away from the city is the amount of vegetation. There are lots of things that can make a microclimate unique.

"Here at the National Weather Service, we're only 500ft off of the valley floor, and we get quite a bit more snow than they get in the city," said Meteorologist Zach Tolby. 

High elevation can lead to colder temperatures, which then determines the precipitation type and amount of snow. Not only is the Reno National Weather Service located at a higher elevation, but it is also surrounded by more vegetation. Together, both of these things makes it easier for snow to stick at the weather service than at the airport. The airport is typically the warmest spot in our area because of all the concrete on the runway, which absorbs heat. 

The urban heat island effect has a lot to do with keeping parts around town warmer than outlying areas. Some valleys are able to pool cold air easier than others. Cold Springs is located inside a bowl and tends to be about eight degrees colder at night. The North Valleys usually gets more snow because they are slightly higher in elevation, and not as prone to shadowing as Reno itself. The west side can get a lot of spillover. Microclimates are usually their most pronounced on clear and cold nights. 

Next time a winter storm rolls through here, and you're debating driving, remember that, while it might be fine where you're at, the roads might not be somewhere else close by.