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Interstate 80 Reopens in Sierra as Tahoe Braces for More Snow

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A man wearing a snow jacket uses a snow blower to clear snow outside of a house.
Snow is cleared from a sidewalk during a storm on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Truckee. (Brooke Hess-Homeier/The Associated Press)

A powerful blizzard that closed highways and ski resorts had moved through the Sierra Nevada by early Monday, but forecasters warned that more snow was on the way for the Northern California mountains.

A long stretch of Interstate 80 from west of Lake Tahoe over Donner Summit to the Nevada state line finally reopened to all but big rigs late Monday morning, but chains or snow tires were required, the California Highway Patrol’s Truckee office said. Closures or chain requirements also affected other highways.

More than 7 feet of snow fell in some locations, and fierce winds lashed the Sierra over the weekend.

The last blizzard warnings expired before dawn Monday, leaving a few light Sierra showers, but winter storm warnings were issued for a new, less powerful system due to arrive later in the day and last into Tuesday night, the National Weather Service said.


The new system was expected to bring periods of moderate mountain snow.

The weekend blizzard caused traffic backups and closures on I-80 and many other roadways, shut down ski resorts for two days, and left thousands of homes and businesses without power.

By Sunday night, Pacific Gas & Electric had restored electricity to all but about 4,400 Northern California customers, while NV Energy had reduced its outages to roughly 1,000 homes and businesses across the state line in Nevada.

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Palisades Tahoe, the largest resort on the north end of Lake Tahoe, was among several ski mountains that closed most or all chairlifts for a second straight day Sunday because of snow, wind and low visibility. Palisades reported a three-day snow total of 6 feet, with more falling.

The resort planned to at least partially reopen Monday but warned that delays were possible, noting on its website that “Mother Nature often has her own plans.”

Kevin Dupui, who lives in Truckee, just northwest of Lake Tahoe, said his snow blower broke, but it doesn’t really matter because there’s nowhere to put all the snow anyway. “We just move it around,” he said Sunday.

Dupui said residents and tourists seem to be mostly heeding warnings to stay home. “The roads haven’t been that safe, so we don’t really want people driving around,” he said.

Another Truckee resident, Jenelle Potvin, said at first, some cynical locals thought “there was a little too much hype” made about the approaching storm. But then the unrelenting snow began Friday night.

“It was definitely a blizzard. And we woke up to a lot of snow yesterday, and it never let up,” Potvin said Sunday. Her neighbors were snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the streets.

At Sugar Bowl, going to the office has been no small feat for Jon Slaughter’s marketing team, who had to dig down several feet and then tunnel through to the front door after a powerful blizzard dumped more than 10 feet of snow on the Northern California ski resort.

It was even more dramatic when they went upstairs and opened another door to the outside on the second level of the office building and were confronted by a solid wall of snow from floor to well above the door frame. His team posted a video of the door opening on X and wrote: “We’ve got some digging to do.”

“They’ve been chipping away at it since Friday, and had to tunnel down to the downstairs door to get in,” Slaughter said. “It definitely keeps you on your toes.”

The ski resort nestled 7,000 feet up among mountain peaks 46 miles (74 km) west of Reno recorded the highest amounts of snow from the storm that began barreling into the region Thursday and was finally dissipating on Monday as it moved through the Sierra Nevada, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

In the eastern Sierra, the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area was closed Sunday as winds of up to 70 mph made it too difficult for ski patrol to complete avalanche mitigation, the resort said. More than 3 feet of snow fell over three days, and more was on the way.

Weather service meteorologist William Churchill on Saturday called the storm an “extreme blizzard” for the Sierra Nevada but said he didn’t expect records to be broken.

The storm began barreling into the region Thursday. A widespread blizzard warning covered a 300-mile stretch of the mountains.

California authorities on Friday shut down 100 miles of I-80, the main route between Reno and Sacramento, because of “spin outs, high winds, and low visibility.”

Rudy Islas spent about 40 minutes shoveling his car out before heading to work at a coffee shop in Truckee on Sunday morning. The snow fazed neither him nor his customers, he said.

“To be honest, if you’re a local, it’s not a big deal,” he said. “I think a lot of people are used to the snow, and they prepare for it.”

This story includes reporting from the Associated Press’ Julie Watson, Scott Sonner and John Antczak.

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