Sierra travelers stopped by spinouts, downed power lines


The Latest – Tuesday, Dec. 14

4:30 p.m.

Caltrans says eastbound Interstate 80 traffic is being held at Castle Peak due to spinouts in the area.

Officials could not say when eastbound traffic would be let through.

Original story below:

COLFAX, Calif. (KTXL) — Mother Nature left its impact on communities in the lower ​elevations Tuesday.

Before the sun rose, the snow fell. The snowfall kept snowplows busy throughout the morning and throughout the region in areas where snow is rather uncommon, areas like Auburn, where snow fell on Interstate 80.

Crews had to close down I-80 between Colfax and the Nevada state line for several hours during the morning to clear downed power lines.

Caltrans said once the power lines were cleared, there were no major incidents to report.

Just after sunrise, passenger cars with chains and all-wheel-drive vehicles were allowed through. 

By around 10 a.m., big rigs were given the all-clear to get back on the highway. 

Highway 50 was also temporarily closed from Meyers to Echo Summit due to avalanche control. 

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The Sierra Avalanche Center warned heavy snow and strong winds on top of a weak snowpack could cause large and destructive avalanches.

One man died Saturday at a ski resort in the Pacific Northwest in an avalanche that temporarily buried five others.

The following districts and schools will be closed Tuesday: 

  • Amador County Unified School District are closed Tuesday
  • Black Oak Mine School District are closed Tuesday
  • El Dorado High School
  • Gold Oak Union School District
  • Independence High School
  • Pioneer Union School District
  • Tahoe Truckee Unified School District 
  • Union Mine High School

Dwayne Watson, who works in Colfax, told FOX40 we need the snow.

“I’d like to see more. I hope we get enough by next summer to fill the lakes up so they’ve got water by next summer,” Watson said. “I think it’s a little bit nice to see it.”

Ski resorts like Diamond Peak, which got 36 inches of fresh snow in 48 hours, and Homewood Mountain Resort, which got over 40 inches of snow during the storm, were able to announce reopening dates for this week.

The powerful “atmospheric river” weather system raised the threat of flooding and was expected to dump more than 8 feet of snow on the highest peaks in California and Nevada and drench other parts of the two states before it moves on midweek, forecasters said.

The storm will bring much-needed moisture to the broader region that’s been gripped by drought that scientists have said is caused by climate change. 

Andrew Schwartz, the lead scientist at the Central Sierra Snow Lab, said they tallied about 24 inches of snow Monday morning, which is well above the average for this time of the year.

“This won’t be a one and done,” Schwartz said. “This won’t pull us out of the drought completely, but this is a great start towards getting us there.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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