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Heavy snowfall in California closes roads and ski resorts

Blizzard conditions continued to batter Northern California over the weekend, with damaging winds and heavy snowfall from mountain ridges to valleys.

Winter storm warnings remain in place for most western states, with blizzard warnings still in effect for the Sierra Nevada.

The most extreme conditions occur at the highest altitudes in the mountains, with hurricane-force winds.

Snow closed a 70-mile stretch of Interstate 80 near the Nevada state line for more than a day after highway officials reported stranded drivers Friday night.

“Extremely heavy snowfall rates of 2 to 6 inches per hour combined with very strong winds that at times exceed 100 mph will maintain impossible travel conditions in the Sierra Nevada,” the Weather Forecast Center said. Officials added that there is no estimated time for reopening.

About 5 to 12 feet of snow was expected to fall along the Sierra ridge late Sunday, while damaging wind gusts “possibly exceeding 75 mph” could be expected across the Intermountain West, according to the Central Weather Forecast.

“These winds will likely down trees and power lines, resulting in widespread power outages,” he said. “Additionally, colder temperatures will drive west behind the initial front, reducing snow levels in many valleys.”

More than 15,000 homes and businesses were without power Sunday afternoon in California.

Several ski fields and lifts remained closed Sunday, including at Palisades Tahoe, Sierra at Tahoe and Mammoth, with some resorts warning of start delays.

Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort in Twin Bridges shared images with CNN of snow accumulated against the door of the resort's maintenance shop and a car in the resort's guest parking lot buried in snow that fell overnight.

“The intensity of snow and high winds along the Sierra Nevada, as well as across the Intermountain West, will gradually decrease through Monday. However, enhanced upper-level energies arriving from the Pacific (will) maintain the unstable cold air mass across much of the western U.S.,” the National Weather Service said.

Frequent rounds of mountain snow will reach as far east as the central Rockies in the coming days, and Sunday's storm will be followed by a new one on Monday, the weather service said.

Yosemite National Park, in the United States, was covered in snow

“Impossible” travel conditions

Extreme snowfall and high winds in the Sierra and parts of the northern ranges mean blowing snow and whiteout conditions make travel “impossible,” the National Weather Service warned.

The storm forced the closure of the main road to the Mammoth Mountain ski resort, US 395, for hours Saturday due to blackout conditions, according to the California Department of Transportation.

Snowy and windy conditions left some vehicles stranded on the road Friday, with some drivers in need of rescue, according to the Truckee Highway Patrol office, which reported a “large amount of vehicles stranded at Donner Summit.” .

“At one point, emergency personnel and tow trucks had difficulty reaching drivers due to blizzard conditions,” the agency said.

Many other roads in the area are closed due to the weather and some are being chain controlled, requiring vehicles to have chains to travel on the roads.

The California Highway Patrol posted a photo Saturday afternoon of one of its cars stuck in the snow. “Even our officers sometimes get stuck in the snow! The blizzard conditions have not yet abated, but our officers are still working hard to keep everyone safe. Avoid traveling during this period and stay updated on road conditions,” he said on Facebook.

On Sunday morning, highway patrol in Truckee shared videos of snowy conditions and low visibility on a stretch of I-80, which remained closed Sunday in Colfax and the Nevada state line as of 6 a.m. PT.

Officials said there is no estimated time for reopening.

Severe winter storm conditions in Northern California posed problems for crews working Sunday to clear snow from roads, which damaged some equipment.

In the South Lake Tahoe area, a snow slide trapped vehicles and briefly closed Highway 50 Sunday morning. There were no injuries and crews quickly reopened the road, authorities said.

Yosemite National Park, which closed Friday due to the storm, partially reopened to visitors Sunday afternoon, park officials announced on Facebook. “Expect snowy conditions throughout the park,” park officials said.

Park officials warned that visitors may need tire chains for their vehicles and to check road conditions.

Source: CNN Brasil

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