Blizzard, avalanche warnings for California - The CW San Diego - News 8

Blizzard, avalanche warnings for California

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Video provided to News 8 by Mammoth Mountain (Video has no sound) 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A forecast of more intense snowfall and powerful winds in the Sierra Nevada has prompted authorities to issue blizzard and avalanche warnings on Sunday and say that conditions in the mountains could become "life-threatening."

A winter storm sweeping across California and Nevada has dumped as much as 8 feet (2.4 meters) of snow over the past two days. Much more is expected in the next two days as additional cold weather systems will bring widespread snow and showers.

Photos provided to News 8 by Peter Morning, MMSA. 

The National Weather Service said 8 feet (2.4 meters) fell at the June Mountain Ski resort north of Mammoth Lakes and up to 3 feet (0.9 meters) were reported in the resorts around Lake Tahoe since Friday.

Forecasters said a blizzard from Sunday night to Monday night could bring another 5 feet (1.5 meters) around Lake Tahoe and another 8 feet (2.4 meters) to the highest elevations, and light snow down to the foothills.

The forecast called for winds gusting as high as 50 mph (80 kph) at the lake level, and up to 100 mph (161 kph) over mountain ridges.

"Do not attempt to travel!" the warning said. "Road crews and first responders may not be able to rescue you. Stay indoors until the snow and wind subside. Even a short walk could be deadly if you become disoriented."

The avalanche warning was issued for the backcountry areas on the Nevada side of the range as well as in the greater Lake Tahoe area.

"There's been so much snow at once, it doesn't have a chance to pack down, leading to very unstable ground," said Cassie Leahy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno.

The Sierra is already loaded with snow from a series of storms in January.

The storms battered California on Saturday, shutting key highways after water and mud rushed into lanes from bare hillsides scarred by wildfires. In Santa Barbara county, residents living near the fire scars were ordered to evacuate, and by Sunday they were allowed to return home as the rain and threats of mudslides diminished.

Over nine feet of snow had fallen at Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain in the Eastern Sierra as of Monday afternoon. 

Highlights: 

  • Biggest storm of the season at Mammoth and June
  • 4-6.75 feet currently on the ground at Mammoth Mountain, another 2.5 feet likely before Tuesday night, bringing totals to over nine feet at Mammoth
  • Colder temperatures throughout this storm system have resulted in excellent snow quality
  • June Mountain has received over nine feet of snow from this system with more on the way.
  • Note: The Eastern Sierra is experiencing full-on blizzard conditions at the moment, with high winds and low visibility.
  • At Mammoth, normal operations will be impacted. 
  • Check Cal-Trans for the latest on road conditions and the Mammoth Mountain website for the latest on lift status.

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