Winter storm closes 81 miles of highway in Sierra Nevada

A sprawling winter storm system continued to wreak havoc in the western United States on Tuesday, where an 81-mile stretch of a Sierra N...

A sprawling winter storm system continued to wreak havoc in the western United States on Tuesday, where an 81-mile stretch of a Sierra Nevada freeway remained closed by blinding snow as temperatures plunged to record highs in Seattle.

The persistent system has made several major freeways and national roads in northern California impassable, with public security agencies posting video warnings extreme conditions.

The closed roads included Interstate 80, which was closed from Placer County near Sacramento more than 80 miles from the Nevada state border, according to Caltrans. A 51-mile stretch of Highway 50 in the Sacramento Valley and Lake Tahoe Basin, which had been closed, reopened Monday evening.

A winter storm warning remained in effect for most of the region until Wednesday, the National Weather Service said, adding that some areas could receive another 20 to 20 inches of snow.

“The impacts on the roads are pretty serious and travel in some cases will be downright impossible,” Andrew Orrison, a meteorologist in College Park, Md., Told the Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center on Monday.

On State Route 89, an avalanche had closed the road from Tahoe City, Calif., To near Palisades Tahoe, the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, the California Highway Patrol said Monday on Twitter. Portions of Route 89 remained closed on Tuesday.

The storm, which started over the holiday weekend, broke records for snowfall and low temperatures in the west.

In a research station operated by the Central Sierra Snow Lab at the University of California at Berkeley, snowfall for December exceeded 193 inches Monday morning – a record high, researchers said. The previous record of 179 inches was set in 1970, said the lab, located at an altitude of 6,894 feet.

“PS Sorry for the late update today!” the lab said on Twitter. “This snow was deep and difficult to cross to measure. It took us 40 minutes to get from the front door of the laboratory to where the measurement was completed at 50 meters!

In an area that has been besieged by wildfires and drought, record snowfall could have its benefits. “This is very good news for the water supply there,” Mr. Orrison said.

In California, there were more than 94,000 customers without power on Tuesday at 7 a.m. local time, many of them in the Sierra Nevada region, according to, a tracking site.

As residents of the Sierra Nevada grappled with thick snow, the Pacific Northwest struggled with an arctic explosion after the storm left several inches of snow in the region over the weekend.

For the second day in a row, Seattle on Monday broke a record for the lowest temperature that day.

At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, a 17-degree low was recorded on Monday, Mr. Orrison said. This broke the record of 20 degrees for the day in 1968, he said.

Sunday was 20 degrees to Sea-Tac, breaking the record of 22 degrees in 1948, the weather service said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Winter storm closes 81 miles of highway in Sierra Nevada
Winter storm closes 81 miles of highway in Sierra Nevada
Newsrust - US Top News
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