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Heavy rain, wind and snow blow over California to the Sierra

A winter storm bringing powerful winds, heavy rain and potentially several feet of snow to the Sierra Nevada closed mountain highways, toppled trees and triggered flood watches and avalanche warnings on Saturday from the north coast of California to Lake Tahoe.

More than 250 miles of the Sierra remained under a winter storm warning at least through Sunday evening or early Monday from north of Reno to south of Yosemite National Park.

Up to 4 feet of snow is expected by the end of the weekend in high elevations around Lake Tahoe, and up to 6 feet in the more remote parts of the Sierra to the north and south.

A 70-mile stretch of eastbound U.S. Interstate 80 was closed ‘due to zero visibility’ from Colfax, Calif., to the Nevada state line, transportation officials said . Chains were needed on much of the rest of I-80 in the mountains from Reno to Sacramento.

A section of California Highway 89 was also closed due to heavy snowfall between Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe, Calif., Highway Patrol said.

The US Forest Service has issued an avalanche warning for the backcountry in the mountains west of Lake Tahoe.

The U.S. Forest Service issued a backcountry avalanche warning in the mountains west of Lake Tahoe where it said “several feet of fresh snow and strong winds will bring dangerous avalanche conditions” .

Wind gusts of up to 50 mph that sent trees into Sonoma County homes on Saturday could reach 100 mph above Sierra ridges early Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Heavy rains were forecast throughout the weekend from San Francisco to the Sierra Ridge with up to 2 inches in the Bay Area and up to 5 inches in Grass Valley northeast of Sacramento.

A pair of trucks navigate their way through snowy conditions along Interstate 80 in Donner Summit, Calif., Dec. 1, 2022.
A 70-mile stretch of eastbound U.S. Interstate 80 was closed “due to zero visibility.”

The Weather Service issued a flash flood warning on Saturday when inches of rain fell on scorch scars left by wildfires south of Monterey and further south of Big Sur.

More than 30,000 customers were without power in the Sacramento area at one point Saturday morning, but it was restored to all but a few hundred by the end of the day. The drivers and passengers of five cars that had been trapped between downed power lines escaped unharmed, the Sacramento Bee reported.

San Francisco Bay Area officials reported power outages and fallen trees, some of which damaged cars and homes. In Monte Rio, a small town along the Russian River in Sonoma County, firefighters responded to multiple reports of downed trees crashing into homes in 50 mph gusts of wind.

Traffic moves slowly through snowy conditions along Interstate 80 near Truckee, California on December 1, 2022.
Up to four feet of snow is expected by the end of the weekend in high elevations around Lake Tahoe.

Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman told KRON-TV four different trees damaged homes in the area and no injuries were reported.

“This is our first big storm, we had several years of drought and all these trees were dry. Now they’re filling up with water and starting to spill over,” Baxman told the TV station.

In the Sierra, about 10 inches of snow had already fallen Saturday afternoon at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort south of Yosemite where more than 10 feet of snow have been recorded since early November.

“It seems like every week or so another major storm hits,” station spokeswoman Lauren Burke said.

Up to 18 to 28 inches of snow was forecast throughout the weekend at lake level, and up to 4 feet at elevations above 7,000 feet with winds of 50 mph and gusts up to 100 mph.

On the eastern slope of the Sierra, a winter weather advisory extends from 10 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. for Reno, Sparks and Carson City, with snowfall accumulations of 1 to 3 inches on valley bottoms and up to 8 inches above 5,000 feet.

New York Post

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