TRUCKEE (CBS SF) — A fierce winter storm, packing high winds and blinding snow showers, buried the Sierra under several feet of new snow Sunday, shutting down ski resorts and closing both Highway 50 and I-80.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for the Lake Tahoe area where both Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows ski resorts have been closed after receiving 3 feet of snow over the last 24 hours.
The National Weather Service reported that over the last 24 hours Heavenly got 42 inches of new snow, Northstar got 37, Sierra at Tahoe received 30 and Tahoe City got 27 inches.
Caltrans District 3 tweeted that at the summit on I-80 there has been “60 inches (of new snow) in 24 hours!!!”
Caltrans announced that I-80 was open from the stateline at 5:19 p.m., except for big rigs.
The wind was also playing a major role in creating hazardous conditions. The National Weather Service said winds were gusting as high as 55 mph with ridge winds gusting to a hurricane force 110 mph.
“While accumulating snow has caused issues, it has been the whiteout conditions that have had the largest impact,” the weather service said. “Winds continue to whip up dry snow… the Sierra continues to pile on snow measured in feet with large drifts and travel is nearly impossible considering road closures due to whiteout conditions.”
The Sierra Avalanche Center has issued a considerable to high warning for snow slides in the Lake Tahoe Area. The warning remains in effect until 7 a.m. Monday.
“Very dangerous avalanche conditions may occur. Travel in avalanche terrain is not recommended during HIGH avalanche danger,” the center warned. “Large destructive avalanches could occur.”