Snow is a welcome sight for Sierra ski resorts, but not so much for drivers


The storm brings up to 8 feet of snow to the Sierra – a welcome sight for many skiers but a nightmare for those who drive into the mountains.

The Sierra ski resorts have had a rough start to the season, so all of this snow is exciting for them.

“This storm will likely be seen as the storm that saved the vacation,” said Michael Reitzell, president of Ski California. wonderful holiday season and takes us through January. ”

But the snow does not help to get up there. This is the first heavy snow of the season to significantly affect travel, with ice and snow on the roads, strong winds and limited visibility. Many roads require chains. The California Highway Patrol has released video of the conditions on Interstate 80, and parts of the road at Colfax near the Nevada border are closed due to downed power lines.

In fact, motorists across California sped past whitewashed mountain passes on Monday and residents held up umbrellas that collapsed in the high winds as northern California absorbed even more rain and snow, which brought the possibility of landslides and mudslides in areas marked by forest fires after a particularly hot and dry fall in the western United States.

FOLLOWING: Atmospheric river grips the bay area, bringing heavy rain and strong winds

Kirkwood Mountain Resort was closed Monday, saying on social media that it was not safe to open with 17 inches of overnight snow and high winds. A California Highway Patrol car in Truckee pushed a large truck up a snowy hill as smaller vehicles sped past, resulting in minor bumps and bruises but no actual injuries, CHP Officer Carlos Perez said.

“It’s so bad and so thick,” he said of the snowfall, with more expected Monday night. “We’re telling people that if they don’t need to be in this area, they probably shouldn’t be traveling.”

The multi-day storm, a powerful “atmospheric river” weather system that sucks moisture from the Pacific Ocean, has increased the threat of flooding and is expected to dump more than 8 feet of snow on California’s highest peaks and of Nevada and flooding other parts of the two states before it moves midweek, forecasters said.

The storm will bring much needed moisture to the wider region that has been affected by the drought which scientists say is being caused by climate change. The last United States Drought Monitor shows that parts of Montana, Oregon, California, Nevada and Utah are classified as being in exceptional drought, which is the worst category.

FOLLOWING: Santa Cruz County Evacuation Warnings

This week’s storm is typical of this time of year but notable as it is the first big snowfall that is expected to significantly affect travel with ice and snow on the roads, strong winds and limited visibility, said Anna Wanless, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

“Most of California, if not all, will see some kind of rain and snow,” she said.

The second storm expected to hit California mid-week shortly after the current storm has passed could provide nearly continuous snow in mountainous areas, said Edan Weishahn of the Reno Weather Service, which monitors an area on horseback. on the Nevada state border.

Donner Summit, one of the highest points on Interstate 80 and a major suburban trade route, could face major travel disruptions or road closures, Weishahn said.

All three Vail Resorts ski resorts in the Tahoe area opened with limited offers over the weekend after teams produced artificial snow. Northstar and Heavenly were both able to open on Monday, but Kirkwood was unable, spokeswoman Sara Roston said.

Approximately 7 feet of snow fell on Mammoth Mountain on December 13, 2021. Courtesy of MMSA / Peter Morning

Approximately 7 feet of snow fell on Mammoth Mountain on December 13, 2021. Courtesy of MMSA / Peter Morning

Approximately 7 feet of snow fell on Mammoth Mountain on December 13, 2021. Courtesy of MMSA / Peter Morning

Approximately 7 feet of snow fell on Mammoth Mountain on December 13, 2021. Courtesy of MMSA / Peter Morning

Approximately 7 feet of snow fell on Mammoth Mountain on December 13, 2021. Courtesy of MMSA / Peter Morning

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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