Biggest snowstorm of the season to hit California mountains

  • By Madeline Halbert
  • BBC News, New York

image source, Good pictures

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More severe weather forecast for higher elevations

Many ski resorts across California closed their doors on Friday as the state braced for a massive snowstorm forecast to hit the Sierra Nevada region over the weekend.

California officials closed roads in the state and neighboring Nevada after up to 10 feet (3 meters) of snow fell.

Wind gusts of 140 mph (225 kmh) are possible in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

About two feet of snow has already fallen in the area.

Extreme weather conditions – including heavy snow and strong winds – are expected at higher elevations in the mountain region.

The storm moved toward the region on Thursday and is expected to strengthen after midnight on Friday. Three to five inches (7.6 cm to 12.7 cm) of snow will fall per hour on Friday and Saturday.

The Weather Forecast Center warned that the storm “will bring an increased chance of significant, long-term disruptions to daily life in the high elevations of the Sierra Nevada Friday through Saturday.”

The weather service added that travel conditions in the Sierra Nevada region will range from “extremely dangerous to impossible.” Avalanches are also possible, he said.

As a result, officials closed large sections of I-80, a highway in the Sierra Nevada.

Yosemite National Park was closed for the weekend and a dozen ski resorts around Lake Tahoe also suspended operations.

While there have been no reports of serious injuries yet, California officials have responded to US media reports of car crashes, as well as incidents of vehicles skidding off the road or getting stuck along I-80.

Strong and dangerous winds are also expected in parts of Utah and Arizona.

The storm comes after a slow start to the snow season in the region. Snowpack in the mountains typically provides a significant portion of California's water supply.

Conditions are expected to improve on Monday, although the middle of next week could see more snow.

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