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California authorities shut down 100 miles of Interstate 80 on Friday as the biggest snow storm of the season bore down on the Sierra Nevada

Residents were urged to take shelter and stay off roads as they prepared for up to 10 feet of snow in some areas and damaging winds up to 145mph.

‘AAANNNDD WE’RE CLOSED!!’ the California Highway Patrol posted on X, saying the closure was due to ‘spin outs, high winds, and low visibility. No estimated time of reopening the freeway.’

Authorities closed the interstate in both directions after 5pm on a day when the majority of more than a dozen ski resorts around Lake Tahoe were closed, a tornado touched down in central California and visitors to Yosemite National Park were told to leave.

California and Nevada are battered monster ‘life-threatening’ blizzard with 145mph winds and tornado warnings – forcing Yosemite and Lake Tahoe ski resorts to shut amid avalanche fears

A lone camper truck moves north bound on the I-80 at the Donner Pass Exit on Friday in Truckee, California as  the most powerful Pacific storm of the season brought more than 10 feet of snow

A view of snow blanketed welcome sign in Tahoe City, California, United States on Friday as blizzard warning issued for California's Sierra Nevada

 A view of snow blanketed welcome sign in Tahoe City, California, United States on Friday as blizzard warning issued for California’s Sierra Nevada

I-80 westbound traffic is being turned at the Nevada State line and eastbound I-80 traffic is being turned around at Drum Forebay due to spin outs, high winds, and low visibility. There is no estimated time of reopening the freeway

I-80 westbound traffic is being turned at the Nevada State line and eastbound I-80 traffic is being turned around at Drum Forebay due to spin outs, high winds, and low visibility. There is no estimated time of reopening the freeway

A funnel cloud was spotted in Madera Acres near Fresno, California

A funnel cloud was spotted in Madera Acres near Fresno, California

The 100-mile closure occurred at the state border just west of Reno, Nevada to near Emigrant Gap, California.

California Highway Patrol, state transportation officials and other authorities reported throughout the day that troopers and others were responding to dozens of collisions on I-80, cars sliding into snow banks or getting stuck on the side of slick roadways. 

There were no immediate reports of any serious injuries.

A tornado touched down on Friday afternoon in Madera County before 4pm, said Andy Bollenbacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Hanford. It caused some damage to an elementary school, he said.

The National Weather Service in Reno said late on Friday it expects the heaviest snow to arrive after midnight, continuing with blizzard conditions and blowing snow throughout Saturday that could reduce visibility to a quarter of a  mile or less.

A powerful blizzard is set to stuck California on Friday. Residents were warned to brace for up to 12 feet of snow and 145 mile-per-hour winds

A powerful blizzard is set to stuck California on Friday. Residents were warned to brace for up to 12 feet of snow and 145 mile-per-hour winds

California's Sierra Nevada mountains were severely affected as blizzard conditions hit the area

California’s Sierra Nevada mountains were severely affected as blizzard conditions hit the area

Winds on the West Coast mountain range were recorded up to 145mph with visibility down to near-zero at times

Winds on the West Coast mountain range were recorded up to 145mph with visibility down to near-zero at times

A mail truck drives as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm

A mail truck drives as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm

A person shovels as snow falls close to Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

A person shovels as snow falls close to Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

A dad was seen pulling his two young children on a sled at the Northstar Resort in Lake Tahoe

 A dad was seen pulling his two young children on a sled at the Northstar Resort in Lake Tahoe

Men remove snow around their vehicles as snow blanketed Emerald Bay Road in Lake Tahoe, California, on Friday as blizzard hi California's Sierra Nevada

Men remove snow around their vehicles as snow blanketed Emerald Bay Road in Lake Tahoe, California, on Friday as blizzard hi California’s Sierra Nevada

Snow is seen blanketing the dock in Lake Tahoe, California as a blizzard struck

Snow is seen blanketing the dock in Lake Tahoe, California as a blizzard struck

A view of snow blanketed road in Lake Tahoe, California as a blizzard warning was issued for California's Sierra Nevada

A view of snow blanketed road in Lake Tahoe, California as a blizzard warning was issued for California’s Sierra Nevada

The storm began barreling into the region on Thursday, with the biggest effects expected to close major highways and trigger power outages Friday afternoon into Saturday. 

A blizzard warning running until Sunday morning covers a 300-mile stretch of the mountains.

Rick Grundy, manager of the Chevron Food Mart near Donner Lake just off Interstate 80, said business was slow Friday — people seemed to have taken officials’ advice to hunker down. 

After living in the Truckee, California, area for 20 years, he said he knows how to prepare for bad weather.

‘We’re pretty well stocked. We knew this was coming,’ Grundy said. ‘One thing I’ve learned, if you are not used to driving in this weather, if you’re not used to being in this area, it’s not a good idea. You should stay home.’

Meteorologists predict as much as 10 feet of snow is possible in the mountains around Lake Tahoe by the weekend, with 3 to 6 feet in the communities on the lake’s shores and more than a foot possible in the valleys on the Sierra’s eastern front, including Reno.

Vehicles drive as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

Vehicles drive as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

A person clears off their car as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe

A person clears off their car as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe 

A snowplow clears snow from roads in Lake Tahoe, California as a blizzard warning was issued for California's Sierra Nevada

A snowplow clears snow from roads in Lake Tahoe, California as a blizzard warning was issued for California’s Sierra Nevada 

A UPS vehicle is seen as snow blanketed roads in Lake Tahoe, California

A UPS vehicle is seen as snow blanketed roads in Lake Tahoe, California

Workers clear train tracks as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm

Workers clear train tracks as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm 

A view of snow blanketed Palisades Tahoe in Olympic Valley, California on Friday

A view of snow blanketed Palisades Tahoe in Olympic Valley, California on Friday

A sign for Interstate 80 westbound is seen covered with snow in Truckee, California just before authorities shut down 100 miles of freeway

A sign for Interstate 80 westbound is seen covered with snow in Truckee, California just before authorities shut down 100 miles of freeway

Skiers ride the Village Express chairlift at Northstar California Resort as it snows in Truckee before the ski resorts were shuttered

Skiers ride the Village Express chairlift at Northstar California Resort as it snows in Truckee before the ski resorts were shuttered

A vehicle collided with a snowplow as snow blanketed roads in South Lake Tahoe, California

A vehicle collided with a snowplow as snow blanketed roads in South Lake Tahoe, California

Snow and ice can be seen icing over the windshield as the storm hit

Snow and ice can be seen icing over the windshield as the storm hit

A person walks as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

A person walks as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

The area is expected to face a winter storm until some time on Sunday

The area is expected to face a winter storm until some time on Sunday 

A vehicle collided with a snowplow as snow blanketed roads in South Lake Tahoe, California

A vehicle collided with a snowplow as snow blanketed roads in South Lake Tahoe, California

A view of snow blanketed Truckee River in Truckee, California

A view of snow blanketed Truckee River in Truckee, California

Blizzard warnings have been issued with snowfall of up to 12 feet and wind gusts over 100 mph expected in some higher elevation locations

Blizzard warnings have been issued with snowfall of up to 12 feet and wind gusts over 100 mph expected in some higher elevation locations

A snowplow clear snow from roads in Lake Tahoe, California

A snowplow clear snow from roads in Lake Tahoe, California

Tractors and snow plows were out in force clearing snow from roads in the region

Tractors and snow plows were out in force clearing snow from roads in the region

A view of snow blanketed roads in Lake Tahoe, California as a blizzard warning was issued for California's Sierra Nevada

 A view of snow blanketed roads in Lake Tahoe, California as a blizzard warning was issued for California’s Sierra Nevada

A view of snow blanketed Palisades Tahoe in Olympic Valley, California

A view of snow blanketed Palisades Tahoe in Olympic Valley, California

Winds are expected to gust in excess of 115mph over Sierra ridgetops, and 70mph at lower elevations.

Backcountry avalanche warnings were in place in various areas. All visitors at Yosemite were supposed to be out of the park as of noon Friday, with the park closed at least until noon on Sunday. More than 7 feet of snow was expected to fall in some areas.

Many Lake Tahoe ski resorts said they were staying closed on Friday due to the atrocious conditions.

But the snow wasn’t all bad news for the resorts. Palisades Tahoe ski resort said the big dump expected over the weekend on top of 8 feet of snow in February should allow them to keep the slopes open until Memorial Day.

In South Lake Tahoe, the lunchtime crowd at Heidi’s Pancake House was a third of the typical 60 diners. 

Even with the worsening forecast, general manager Salvador Ortega expected to stay open and most of his employees to show up.

: A view of snow blanketed Truckee River in Truckee, California

: A view of snow blanketed Truckee River in Truckee, California

A person uses a snow blower as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

A person uses a snow blower as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains 

A person walks as another shovels as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada

A person walks as another shovels as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada

A resident uses a snowblower as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

A resident uses a snowblower as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

Snow blows north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

Snow blows north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains

A train worker rides as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm

A train worker rides as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm 

The biggest snow storm of the season bore down on the Sierra Nevada, where residents were urged to take shelter and stay off roads as they prepared more than 10 feet of snow

The biggest snow storm of the season bore down on the Sierra Nevada, where residents were urged to take shelter and stay off roads as they prepared more than 10 feet of snow

The snow could be seen piling up at resorts in the Sierra Tahoe

The snow could be seen piling up at resorts in the Sierra Tahoe

Damaging winds were seen barreling into the area including here at the Kirkwood Mountain Resort

Damaging winds were seen barreling into the area including here at the Kirkwood Mountain Resort

A freight train passes through town as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada

A freight train passes through town as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada

Vehicles drive on I-80 as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm on Friday

 Vehicles drive on I-80 as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm on Friday

A view of snow blanketed road and tunnel in Truckee, California

A view of snow blanketed road and tunnel in Truckee, California

Snow seen blanketing Donner Lake in Truckee, California

Snow seen blanketing Donner Lake in Truckee, California

A resident can be seen using a snowblower as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe

A resident can be seen using a snowblower as snow falls north of Lake Tahoe 

‘We are one of the restaurants in South Lake Tahoe that don’t close unless we don’t have power or something breaks down. We’re open 365,’ he said. ‘Tahoe is a small community. It’s rare when an employee doesn’t make it to work.’

Ortega said he believes the snowfall will ultimately be good for the community and increase tourism once it’s safe to travel again.

Andrew Schwartz, the lead scientist at UC-Berkeley’s Central Sierra Snow Lab, said it is possible they could break their modern-day record of about 3.5 feet of snow in a single day from back in 1989.

On the bright side, California water officials said the storm should also provide a much-needed boost to the Sierra snowpack, which is vital to the state’s water supplies. 

It stood at 80 percent of average to date on Thursday, California Department of Water resources officials said.

Todd Cummings decided to drive from Santa Cruz to the Lake Tahoe area ahead of the storm. 

His destination, the Northstar resort, did open, but the slopes were far from packed.

‘Nobody’s here,’ he said during his first chairlift ride of the day. ‘They have limited trails open but this lift goes to the top.’



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