California blizzard: Powerful California blizzard closes roads and ski resorts as heavy snow and wind lash mountains



CNN

Blizzard conditions hit Northern California over the weekend with damaging winds and heavy snow dumped on mountain ridges and down into valleys.

While a blizzard warning is still in effect in the Sierra Nevada, about 6.5 million people across the Mountain West are under winter weather warnings.

The most extreme conditions are emerging at higher elevations, with whiteout conditions and hurricane-force winds in the Sierra Nevada.

Snow closed a 70-mile stretch of Interstate 80 near the Nevada state line for more than a day after highway officials reported stranded drivers Friday night.

“Heavy snowfall rates of 2-6 inches per hour and gusts of up to 100 mph at times will maintain impossible travel conditions in the Sierra Nevada,” the weather forecast center said.

Weather Service A “high to severe” avalanche danger has been issued for the Central Sierra and Greater Lake Tahoe region through Sunday afternoon.

About 5-12 feet of snow is forecast across the crest of the Sierra late Sunday, while damaging winds of “75 mph” are possible across the Intermountain West, according to the Weather Forecast Center.

“These winds will bring down trees and power lines, resulting in widespread power outages,” it said. “Also, cooler temperatures will move west behind the initial front, reducing snow levels in many valleys.”

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More than 12,000 homes and businesses were without power in California early Sunday morning — down from nearly 40,000 that morning. According to the monitoring website PowerOutage.us.

Several ski fields and chairlifts were closed Saturday, including Palisades Tahoe, Sierra at Tahoe and Mammoth, and some resorts warned of late Sunday starts.

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Ski Resort Sierra-at-Tahoe at Twin Bridges shared the images with CNN. Snow piles up against the door The resort's maintenance shop and a car in the resort's guest parking lot were buried overnight in snow.

“Wind intensity will decrease, although some additional snow is expected throughout the day, particularly in the southern Cascades/Sierra, Wasatch and central Rockies,” the National Weather Service said. In its latest forecast discussion early Sunday.

The weather service said storm-force winds will start to blow in late Sunday, but a new pattern will follow Monday.

Whiteouts and 'impossible' travel conditions

Brooke Hess-Homeier/AP

Residents try to clear snow from around a car in Truckee on Saturday.

The National Weather Service warned that snow and whiteout conditions will make travel “impossible” as heavy snow and howling winds hit parts of the Sierra and northern ranges.

The storm forced Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort to close the main road to US 395 for several hours Saturday, according to the California Department of Transportation.

The California Highway Patrol reported that I-80 was still closed between Truckee, the Nevada state line and Colfax as of Saturday evening.

Snowy and windy conditions left some vehicles stranded on the road Friday, with some motorists requiring rescue, according to CHP Truckee, which reported “multiple vehicles stranded on Donner Summit.”

“At one point, blizzard conditions made it difficult for emergency personnel and tow trucks to reach motorists,” the agency said.

Many roads in the area are closed due to the weather, and some are chained, requiring chains to keep vehicles on the road.

The California Highway Patrol released a photo Saturday afternoon of one of its cars stuck in the snow. “Even our officers sometimes get stuck in the snow! The blizzard-like conditions have not yet subsided, however, and our officers are working hard to keep everyone safe. Avoid traveling during these times and be aware of road conditions. He said on Facebook.

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