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Blizzard clears, but more snow looms in California

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  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                USPS trucks are covered in snow during a storm, on Sunday, in Truckee, Calif.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    USPS trucks are covered in snow during a storm, on Sunday, in Truckee, Calif.

  • JANE TYSKA/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                J.J. Morgan clears snow on Church Street near the historic Truckee Hotel as snow continues to fall in downtown Truckee, Calif., Sunday.

    JANE TYSKA/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

    J.J. Morgan clears snow on Church Street near the historic Truckee Hotel as snow continues to fall in downtown Truckee, Calif., Sunday.

  • JANE TYSKA/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                A man and his dog walk up to the Tahoe Donner Recreation and Park District’s Community Arts Center in downtown Truckee, Calif., Sunday.

    JANE TYSKA/BAY AREA NEWS GROUP VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A man and his dog walk up to the Tahoe Donner Recreation and Park District’s Community Arts Center in downtown Truckee, Calif., Sunday.

TRUCKEE, Calif. >> A powerful blizzard that closed highways and ski resorts had moved through the Sierra Nevada by early today, but forecasters warned that more snow was on the way for the Northern California mountains.

A long stretch of Interstate 80 from west of Lake Tahoe over Donner Summit to the Nevada state line finally reopened to all but big rigs late this morning, but chains or snow tires were required, the California Highway Patrol’s Truckee office said. Closures or chain requirements also affected other highways.

More than 7 feet of snow fell in some locations and fierce winds lashed the Sierra over the weekend.

The last blizzard warnings expired before dawn today, leaving a few light Sierra showers, but winter storm warnings were issued for a new, less powerful system due to arrive later in the day and last into Tuesday night, the National Weather Service said.

The new system was expected to bring periods of moderate mountain snow.

The weekend blizzard caused traffic backups and closures on I-80 and many other roadways, shut down ski resorts for two days, and left thousands of homes and businesses without power.

By Sunday night, Pacific Gas & Electric had restored electricity to all but about 4,400 Northern California customers, while NV Energy had reduced its outages to roughly 1,000 homes and businesses across the state line in Nevada.

Palisades Tahoe, the largest resort on the north end of Lake Tahoe, was among several ski mountains that closed most or all chairlifts for a second straight day Sunday because of snow, wind and low visibility. Palisades reported a three-day snow total of 6 feet (1.8 meters), with more falling.

The resort planned to at least partially reopen today but warned that delays were possible, noting on its website that “Mother Nature often has her own plans.”

Kevin Dupui, who lives in Truckee, just northwest of Lake Tahoe, said his snow blower broke, but it doesn’t really matter because there’s nowhere to put all the snow anyway. “We just move it around,” he said Sunday.

Dupui said residents and tourists seem to be mostly heeding warnings to stay home. “The roads haven’t been that safe, so we don’t really want people driving around,” he said.

Another Truckee resident, Jenelle Potvin, said at first some cynical locals thought “there was a little too much hype” made about the approaching storm. But then the unrelenting snow began Friday night.

“It was definitely a blizzard. And we woke up to a lot of snow yesterday and it never let up,” Potvin said Sunday. Her neighbors were snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the streets.

In the eastern Sierra, the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was closed Sunday as winds of up to 70 mph (113 kph) made it too difficult for ski patrol to complete avalanche mitigation, the resort said. More than 3 feet (nearly 1 meter) of snow fell over three days, and more was on the way.

Weather service meteorologist William Churchill on Saturday called the storm an “extreme blizzard” for the Sierra Nevada but said he didn’t expect records to be broken.

The storm began barreling into the region Thursday. A widespread blizzard warning covered a 300-mile (480-kilometer) stretch of the mountains.

California authorities on Friday shut down 100 miles (160 kilometers) of I-80, the main route between Reno and Sacramento, because of “spin outs, high winds, and low visibility.”

Rudy Islas spent about 40 minutes shoveling his car out before heading to work at a coffee shop in Truckee on Sunday morning. Neither he nor his customers were fazed by the snow, he said.

“To be honest, if you’re a local, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “I think a lot of people are used to the snow and they prepare for it.”


Weber reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press reporters Ken Ritter in Las Vegas; Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada; Janie Har in San Francisco; Julie Walker in New York; and Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed.


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