California snow storm closes highway, threatens avalanches

March 4, 2024 4:00 pm

[Source: Reuters]

More than one foot (30 cm) of additional snow was predicted to fall on Sunday in much of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, already whitened by a weekend of blizzards that closed a major highway into Nevada as forecasters warned of a high risk of avalanches.

Interstate 80 has been closed between Colfax and the Nevada state line since Friday as high winds whipped up snow squalls, the California Highway Patrol said.

The National Weather Service warned of wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour (72 kph) and blizzard conditions in the highest mountain elevations through Sunday night. Ski resorts around Lake Tahoe closed for business.

Article continues after advertisement

More than 80 inches (2 meters) of snow has piled up since Friday in Soda Springs, Sugar Bowl and other mountain towns, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm also shut down Yosemite National Park, though the National Park Service said it hoped to partially reopen some roads on Sunday afternoon.

More than 22,000 customers in northern California had lost electricity, according to the tracking service.

Forecasters warned people to stay indoors, with a high risk of avalanches in the backcountry mountains of Eastern Sierra Nevada.

Even as blizzards were easing, more snow-laden winter storms were expected for much of the region on Monday and Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.