TRUCKEE (CBS SF) – Mother Nature buried the Sierra Nevada under several feet of snow Tuesday, triggering an avalanche warning with wind gusts of near hurricane levels creating dangerous white-out conditions.
The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning until at 10 a.m. Wednesday for the Lake Tahoe region.
By Thursday morning, forecasters said, as much as 10 feet of new snow was expected to fall above 7,000 feet. At lake level at Lake Tahoe, up to 7 feet of new snow could fall.
As of 9 a.m., the weather service said 40 inches of new snow had fallen on Soda Springs in the last 24 hours, 26 inches at Sierra-at-Tahoe and 38 inches at Mt. Rose.
With wind gusts of up to 60 mph at the lake level, forecasters said, driving would be extremely treacherous. Both Highways 80 and 50 were being sporadically shut down because the conditions made the roadways unpassable.
The Sierra Ridge was clocking wind gusts of more than 100 mph.
The rapidly falling snow was fueling conditions ripe for avalanches throughout the region. The Sierra Avalanche Center issued its highest warning level on Tuesday morning,
An avalanche in the back country area near Mt. Rose already claimed one life this season. Two other skiers were safely pulled from another avalanche in the Mt. Rose area last week.
Heavenly Mountain reported the resort had received 3.5 feet of new snow at the summit overnight. The blizzard condition and high winds forced the resort to shut down its gondola and the upper mountain runs.
At Kirkwood, just over 2 feet of snow fell overnight. While several runs could be opened, officials said the roads heading to the resort were shut down by the blizzard-conditions.
Bear Valley has also shut down for the day while Northstar said its ops team were working hard to get their runs open sometime on Tuesday.