TGIF Skiers: Sierra Gets Dumped On

Motorists are cursing, but skiers and snowboarders are rejoicing as another storm is bringing more snow to the Sierra ahead of Christmas week.

Meteorologist Craig Herrera said two feet of snow could fall by the time things clear up.

A strong cold front is moving across the Sierra Nevada that will also produce very windy conditions.

California Department of Transportation supervisor Donna Jones says Interstate 80 over Donner Summit was closed for nearly six hours before reopening at 6:30 a.m.

She says the interstate was shut down by blowing snow that caused zero visibility.

Chains are mandatory on all three major trans-Sierra highways: I-80 over Donner Summit, U.S. 50 over Echo Summit and Highway 88 over Carson Pass.

Up to a foot of new snow was welcome news for Tahoe ski resorts, which are gearing up for the busy Christmas holiday period.  So were forecasts calling for a chance of snow almost every day through at least Christmas at Tahoe.

The Boreal ski area atop Donner Summit planned to operate six of seven lifts on Saturday after the latest storm dropped up to a foot of new snow. The resort reported a total of 57 inches of snow over the last week.

Before a series of storms began last weekend, the Tahoe snowpack stood at only about 2 percent of average for the date.

"Things are looking great now," Boreal spokesman Jon Slaughter said Friday. "It feels like winter. The snow has energized everybody and got everybody thinking about skiing."

The Squaw Valley ski resort just north of Tahoe reported 6 to 12 inches of new snow on top of 3 feet of snow that had fallen since the weekend.

And the Heavenly resort on Tahoe's south shore reported 3 to 5 inches of new snow for a total of 27 inches of snow since last weekend.

Some ski resorts opened later than normal on Friday because of strong wind gusts.

There were gusts of up to 142 mph on the Sierra crest west of Tahoe and up to 79 mph in Reno, said Gina McGuire, a National Weather Service forecaster in Reno.

To the south, she reported gusts of up to 162 mph on White Mountain Summit in Mono County, Calif., and up to 82 mph in Washoe Valley north of Carson City.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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