San Francisco Chronicle
Tue, 10 Jan 2017 10:05 UTC
The National Weather Service in Reno issued a blizzard warning about 3:50 a.m. for the Greater Lake Tahoe area, including Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Incline Village and the Nevada town of Stateline.
Intense snowfall rates, near zero visibility and swift winds prompted the weather service to issue the fairly uncommon warning, said Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the agency.
"Right now, it's kind of a life-threatening situation and people should definitely not attempt to travel in the Sierra," McGuire said. "It's very rare for us to issue a blizzard warning. This storm is definitely a notch above a typical winter storm."
Heavy snow at Donner Summit closed Interstate 80 from Baxter to the Nevada State Line, according to California Highway Patrol. State Route 267 also closed between Northstar and Kings Beach due to road conditions, said Officer Peter Mann, a CHP spokesman.
"It's snowing a lot up there and the roads are incredibly slick," Mann said.
Alpine Meadows Road was closed west of Juniper Mountain Road after a controlled avalanche sent debris across the roadway and into a few houses, officials said. The homes sustained minor damage, Mann said. No injuries were reported.
"It bust open our front door," Melissa Siig said. "The avalanche actually went up and over our house."
The family had been forewarned of the avalanche by officials and stayed at the bottom floor of their 3-story home to brace for the blast of snow.
Another triggered avalanche closed State Route 89 between Squaw Valley and Tahoe City, officials said.
Several natural avalanches were also being reported in the blizzard area, McGuire said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the area received about 2 to 3 feet at elevations above 6,500 feet, McGuire said. Mount Rose ski resort, which was closed Tuesday due to blizzard conditions, had accumulated 3 to 4 feet of snow over the past day, with a total of 6.5 feet for the entire storm so far.
Incline Village received about 31 inches of snow in the past day, said McGuire, who expects precipitation to pick up Tuesday night.
The Lake Tahoe basin recorded 30 mph winds with gusts up to 60 mph Tuesday, while ridge gusts in the Sierra hit over 100 mph.
Blizzard conditions should subside by Wednesday morning, McGuire said, adding a winter storm warning will remain in effect. There were no hard estimates for when roads would reopen, but officials did not expect Interstate 80 to reopen before 9 p.m. Tuesday.