'Whiteout' blizzard hits Nevada, Northern California

The Sierra Nevada is bracing for “life-threatening blizzard conditions” Friday ahead of a forecast of heavy snowfall that could bury parts of northern California and Nevada and trigger deadly road conditions.

Forecasters said the winter storm would cause “white blizzard conditions” and make travel “impossible and extremely dangerous.”

National Weather Service Blizzard warning issued A Winter Storm Warning is in effect for parts of Nevada and Northern California through Sunday morning and at least Saturday afternoon. A high wind warning was also issued for Nevada until Saturday morning.

“If you don't choose to stay through the weekend, prepare for life-threatening travel conditions when our next weather maker takes over,” the NWS wrote.

At elevations above 7,000 feet, snow levels can reach 10 feet. Other areas above 6,000 feet could get up to 8 feet of snow. Up to 6 feet of snow was seen in low-lying areas, including Lake Tahoe.

Wind gusts as high as 115 mph are possible over the Sierra ridges and 70 mph at lower elevations.

Forecasters say the severe conditions will not abate at least through the weekend. Winds may ease in the valleys on Monday, but snow showers may continue, with up to 45% of the Sierra Nevada covered by snow by midweek.

Last year, Donner Pass received nearly 12 feet of snow over seven days in late February.

The Sierra Nevada has a history of accumulating large amounts of snow during severe winter storms.

In 1952, Donner Pass set a record when it recorded 154 inches of snow in eight days in January, with 80 mph winds and 40-foot drifts. Truckee Historical Society.

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∎ Th Sierra Avalanche Center published An Avalanche Watch for the central Sierra Nevada Mountains on Thursday. The center said there is a risk of avalanches Friday morning through Sunday afternoon.

'Treacherous' conditions travel on mountain passes 'can be life-threatening'

The NWS warned travelers not to venture out as heavy snow and damaging winds created “treacherous” conditions on mountainous roads.

Donner Pass, a 7,000-foot pass about 40 miles west of Reno, and parts of Interstate 5 in northern California could be completely closed, according to Accuweather.

Strong winds across roadways could bring drivers' visibility to “near zero,” the NWS said.

Forecasters warned that commuters could be stranded on the roads as the snow overwhelms road crews.

The storm may also cause power outages for those living in mountainous or remote areas. Aquaweather experts advised residents to keep chimneys open and vent exhaust from furnaces to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

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