'Life-Threatening' Snowstorm Powers Through California Mountains

Mar 4, 2024

A major snowstorm with strong winds blasted through the Sierra Nevada mountains in Northern California and nearby states over the weekend. It dropped several feet of snow in some areas. The storm caused ski resorts to close, and it knocked out power to thousands of homes. 

At the highest elevations, more than 10 feet of snow fell. Heavy snow totals reached 2-6 inches per hour. The powerful storm closed more than 100 miles of Interstate 80. Hundreds of drivers were stranded. And travel stopped on the vital east-west highway. There was no timeframe for when the highway might be cleared, authorities said.  

People near the resort town of Lake Tahoe faced “life-threatening conditions,” a National Weather Service (NWS) expert said. No deaths had been reported.

“It’s a blizzard,” a resident of Truckee, California, told The Associated Press. “It’s pretty harrowing.” 

The storm began to weaken Sunday night. But a smaller system could add another 1-2 feet at higher elevations Monday and Tuesday, Alan Reppert told USA TODAY. He's an AccuWeather meteorologist

Ski resorts usually thrive on heavy snows. But this storm proved too much. Several major resorts closed on Friday. They likely will reopen today. 

“Our teams have been playing catchup the past two days,” the resort Palisades Tahoe said on its website. “We will be digging out for the foreseeable future.”

NWS weatherman William Churchill called the storm an “extreme blizzard for the Sierra Nevada.” But he added that the snowfall still won’t break records. The highest elevations should get 12 feet before the storm ends, Churchill said. Lower elevations will see heavy rain, he added.      

Reflect: If your community had to deal with 10 feet of snow in a short amount of time, what do you think would be the most pressing problems it would create?

GIF courtesy @elle0elle on GIPHY.

Based on the details in the article, what caused the closure of Interstate 80? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. heavy rainfall
b. a bad accident
c. extreme snowfall
d. power outages
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