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Record-Breaking Snow Shuts Down Highways in California

About 140 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain broke a more than 30-year record for monthly snowfall, the resort said on social media

Winter weather enveloping California’s mountains for a fifth straight day Saturday kept skiers from hitting the slopes, closed down highways and even broke a record.

California Department of Transportation officials on Saturday afternoon briefly closed down Highway 20 just east of Nevada City due to heavy snow and vehicle spinouts. Eastbound traffic on Interstate 80 traffic was stopped at Alta also due to multiple spinouts, Caltrans officials said.

Several routes to the ski mecca of Lake Tahoe were shut down, including about 70 miles of I-80 from Colfax, California, to the Nevada state line. 

About 140 miles southeast of Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Mountain broke a more than 30-year record for monthly snowfall, the resort said on social media.

"With almost 15 feet of snow at Main Lodge (175”) and 22+ feet at the summit this month, we’ve officially passed 1987 as the snowiest Feb. Storm total since Wed: 47-81” and counting," Mammoth Mountain said on Twitter.

Skiers and snowboarders should still be able to reach the slopes as long as they have chains or snow tires, resort spokesman Justin Romano said.

There's less rain in the Bay Area Saturday but NBC Bay Area's Storm Ranger is still busy tracking scattered showers (some with ice pellets and hail), as well as snow near Mt. Umunhum in the Santa Cruz mountains.

More snow could come overnight near 2,500-3,000 foot elevation, according to meteorologist Rob Mayeda.

Aura Campa of Oakland and her partner were hoping to take advantage of their season passes and the fresh powder at Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows resort, but a near-accident on an icy road last weekend made them reconsider.

I-80 was reopened to passenger vehicles Friday evening.

Chains were required for travel in many other parts of the towering Sierra Nevada.

"All avid skiers are itching to get out on the mountain, but the roads are pretty treacherous right now," said Kevin Cooper, marketing director for Lake Tahoe TV.

The storm was expected to dump between 3 and 6 feet of fresh snow in a region where some ski resorts reported getting 3 feet since Thursday. Officials warned of avalanches in the greater Lake Tahoe Area, where heavy snow and high winds were expected through Sunday.

Storms also have swamped much of the state with heavy rain that crumbled roads and flooded a resort north of San Francisco where a kayaker paddled through a meeting room after a nearby river swelled over its banks.

Authorities told people to stay home as snow kept piling up.

"State Route 267 is so deep that plows can no longer plow. They have ordered up a large blower to try and clear the pass," Placer County sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Scott said in a tweet with a video of the snow-covered road.

Crews were starting repairs on State Routes 74 and 243. A route combining surviving portions of the two mountain highways and a county road kept the communities connected to the world, but authorities urged outsiders to leave the tenuous route to residents.

"We’re discouraging tourism and snow play up there this weekend," California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Terri Kasinga said.

In other parts of California, crews turned to cleanup after a storm Thursday led to at least three deaths.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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