Thousands Are Without Power in California and Nevada Amid Heavy Snowfall

Thousands of residents were left without power, and life came to a standstill for many in the Sierra Nevada region on Saturday after a winter storm dumped as much as two feet of snow overnight and created treacherous conditions.

About 49,000 customers in Nevada and California were without electricity on Saturday morning, according to With whiteout conditions in the mountains, ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area paused operations. And highway officials shut down Interstate 80, the main artery that traverses the Sierra Nevada over Donner Summit, a key trucking route from the San Francisco Bay Area. Traffic cameras revealed semi trucks parked alongside the highway, waiting out the overnight closure.

​​California Highway Patrol said there was no estimated time of reopening the freeway.

The Central Sierra Snow Laboratory, a research station located atop Donner Summit, reported that 20.7 inches of snow had fallen as of Saturday morning, and that 39.8 inches had fallen over the past 48 hours. Palisades Tahoe, a resort that closed ski area operations on Saturday across all terrain, reported 24 inches of new snow in the past 24 hours.

Yosemite National Park remained closed at least through noon Sunday, park officials said.

A maintenance worker clearing snow in South Lake Tahoe.Credit…David Calvert for The New York Times

In the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the huge mountain range that runs along the spine of California, forecasters rated the avalanche danger as high, and they expected avalanche hazards to worsen throughout the day because of the new snow and continued winds. Overnight, winds reached as high as 171 miles per hour.

Several avalanches were reported in the backcountry on Friday, according to public observations on the Sierra Avalanche Center website, including at least one partial burial — a skier was caught when snow buried him up to his shoulders, but he was dug out about 10 minutes later. There were no injuries or fatalities reported.

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