Blizzard in California and Nevada, Section of I-80 Closed and Advisory issued by Authorities

California authorities closed a 100-mile stretch of Interstate 80 on Friday due to the largest snowstorm of the season approaching the Sierra Nevada region. Residents were advised to seek shelter and avoid traveling on highways as they braced for up to 10 feet of snow in certain parts along with strong winds.

“And we are closed!” The California Highway Patrol announced on X (formerly known as Twitter) that the closure was caused by “spin outs, high winds, and low visibility.”

There is no projected schedule for when the freeway will reopen.

Authorities shut down the freeway in both directions after 5 p.m. on a day when most of the ski resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe were closed, a tornado hit central California, and visitors to Yosemite National Park were instructed to evacuate.

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

California Highway Patrol, state transportation officials, and other authorities reported responding to many collisions on I-80 throughout the day, with automobiles sliding into snow banks or becoming trapped on the side of slippery roads. No serious injuries were reported immediately.

According to meteorologist Andy Bollenbacher with the National Weather Service Hanford, a tornado hit Madera County before 4 p.m. on Friday. It resulted in damage to an elementary school, according to him.

The National Weather Service in Reno anticipates the most intense snowfall to occur after tonight, persisting with blizzard conditions and blowing snow until Saturday, potentially causing visibility to drop to one-quarter mile or less.

The storm started impacting the region on Thursday and is anticipated to cause key roadways to closure and power interruptions from Friday afternoon until Saturday. A blizzard warning is in effect until Sunday am for a 300-mile area of the mountains.

Rick Grundy, the manager of Chevron Food Mart near Donner Lake by Interstate 80, reported a decrease in sales on Friday as customers appeared to have followed officials’ recommendation to stay indoors.

Having been in the Truckee, California region for two decades, he stated that he is well-versed in preparing for inclement weather. We have a enough supply. Grundy stated that they were aware this was going to happen. It is not advisable to drive in this weather or be in this location if you are unfamiliar with it. Remain at home.

Meteorologists forecast up to 10 feet of snow in the mountains near Lake Tahoe by the weekend, 3 to 6 feet in the lakeside villages, and over a foot in the valleys on the Sierra’s eastern edge, including Reno.

Wind speeds are forecasted to reach above 115 mph on Sierra ridgetops and 70 mph at lower elevations.

Avalanche warnings were issued for backcountry locations in several places. All Yosemite visitors were required to leave by noon on Friday, and the park will remain closed until at least noon on Sunday.

Over 7 feet of snow may accumulate in certain regions. Several Lake Tahoe ski resorts announced they will remain closed on Friday because of the weather.

The snow had some positive impacts on the resorts. Palisades Tahoe ski resort announced that the significant snowfall anticipated over the weekend, along with the 8 feet of snow received in February, will enable them to keep the slopes operational until Memorial Day.

Individuals inspect tire chains during snowfall on Interstate 80 in the Sierra Nevada mountains during the beginning of a severe winter storm on February 29, 2024, near Soda Springs, California.

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