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Late-Season Sierra Storm Closes Roads

April 17, 2006|From the Associated Press

RENO — Thousands of Easter travelers faced major delays in the Sierra when another late-season storm dropped heavy snow and caused temporary closures of mountain highways.

Chains were mandatory Sunday on all three highways linking Sacramento to the Reno and Lake Tahoe area: Interstate 80 over Donner Summit, U.S. 50 over Echo Summit and state Highway 88 over Carson Pass.

I-80's westbound lanes were closed for about four hours over Donner Summit because of whiteout conditions and spinouts, said Juanita Holley, spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation.

The storm had dropped 3 feet of snow at Kingvale just west of Donner Summit by midafternoon, and snow was falling at a rate of at least 2 inches an hour.

It was the latest in a string of late-season storms that had residents shaking their heads and yearning for spring-like weather. Before March 1, 13 feet of snow had fallen at Kingvale, which is at 6,200 feet. Since then, storms have dropped 27 feet in March and 6 1/2 feet in April.

A winter storm warning remained in effect through 5 a.m. today around Lake Tahoe.

The string of storms has been good news for farmers and municipal water users that rely on the Sierra watershed for their water supplies.

Across the Sierra, the average snowpack stood at 125% of normal this month, according to the California Department of Water Resources.

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