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Heavy snow, rain pummel California

100 mph wind gusts hit Sierra Nevada by The Associated Press | December 12, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Scott Lapinski, a fire inspector with Sonoma County Fire Prevention and Hazmat Division, peers inside a building for interior damage, while inspecting its structural integrity on River Blvd in Monte Rio, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. No one at the home was injured. A potent winter storm is battering the west coast. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif.-- Heavy snow fell in the Sierra Nevada as a winter storm packing powerful winds left ski lift chairs swinging and mountain highways closed while downpours at lower elevations triggered flood watches Sunday across large swaths of California into Nevada.

More than 250 miles of the Sierra from north of Reno south to Yosemite National Park remained under winter storm warnings until late Sunday or early Monday.

The Heavenly ski resort at Lake Tahoe shut down some operations when the brunt of the storm hit Saturday. The resort posted video of lift chairs swaying violently in gusts that topped 100 mph and tweeted a reminder that wind closures are "always for your safety."

To the south, Mammoth Mountain reported that more than 20 inches of snow fell Saturday, with another 2 feet possible as the tail end of the system moved through the eastern Sierra.

The UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab in Soda Springs, California, reported Sunday morning that more than 43 inches had fallen in a 48-hour span.

A 70-mile stretch of eastbound U.S. Interstate 80 was closed Saturday "due to zero visibility" from the northern California town of Colfax to the Nevada state line, transportation officials said. Chains were required on much of the rest of I-80 and other routes in the mountains from Reno toward Sacramento.

Many other key roads were closed because of heavy snow, including a stretch of California Highway 89 between Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe, the highway patrol said.

The U.S. Forest Service issued an avalanche warning for the backcountry in the mountains west of Lake Tahoe where it said "several feet of new snow and strong winds will result in dangerous avalanche conditions."

Gusts up to 50 mph that sent trees into homes in Sonoma County north of San Francisco on Saturday could reach 100 mph over Sierra ridgetops on Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Heavy rain was forecast through the weekend from San Francisco to the Sierra crest with up to 2 inches in the Bay Area and up to 5 inches at Grass Valley northeast of Sacramento.

Warnings and watches were also up across Southern California, as heavy rain caused localized flooding in greater Los Angeles.

"Significant travel delays possible with accumulating snow on several mountain roads. This could include the Tejon Pass and Grapevine area of Interstate 5," the National Weather Service's LA-area office said in a statement.

  photo  Monte Rio Fire Protection District fire captain Chris Coombs prepares to remove limbs from a large redwood tree that fell in to the front yard and home on Alder Rd., in Monte Rio, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. No one at the home was injured. A potent winter storm is battering the west coast. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
 
 
  photo  This image from a Caltrans traffic camera shows snow conditions on California SR-89 Snowman in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. A stretch of California Highway 89 was closed due to heavy snow between Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe, Cali., the highway patrol said. Interstate 80 between Reno and Sacramento remained open but chains were required on tires for most vehicles. (Caltrans via AP)
 
 
  photo  This image from a Caltrans traffic camera shows snow conditions on California Interstate 5 Sims Road in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, near Castella, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022. A stretch of California Highway 89 was closed due to heavy snow between Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe, Cali., the highway patrol said. Interstate 80 between Reno and Sacramento remained open but chains were required on tires for most vehicles. (Caltrans via AP)
 
 

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