Massive Storm Shuts Down 81 Miles of California Interstate

And another storm is hitting the state Tuesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 27, 2021 2:42 AM CST
Updated Dec 28, 2021 12:36 AM CST
Big Storm Causes 20-Car Pileup in Nevada
This image from video provided by Caltrans District 3 shows a closed westbound I-80 on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. The road from Colfax, Calif., to the Nevada state line was closed due to heavy snowfall.   (Caltrans District 3, via AP)

(Newser) Update: As of Monday, the stretch of Interstate 80 that was shut down due to a major storm in the western US had hit 81 miles, the New York Times reports. The highway is closed near the Sierra Nevada mountain range, from Placer County near Sacramento to the Nevada state line. Several other major highways remain closed in northern California as record-setting amounts of snow fall—good news for the previously parched state's water supply, but bad news for the more than 115,000 people without power as of Monday morning. In southern California, another storm is expected Tuesday night, and could continue until Friday morning, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Pacific Northwest is experiencing frigid temperatures, and Nevada and Arizona are also seeing impacts, per the AP. Our previous story from Monday follows:

A major Christmas weekend storm caused whiteout conditions and closed key highways amid blowing snow in mountains of Northern California and Nevada, with forecasters warning that travel in the Sierra Nevada could be difficult for several days, the AP reports. Authorities near Reno said three people were injured in a 20-car pileup on Interstate 395, where drivers described limited visibility on Sunday. Further west, a 70-mile stretch of Interstate 80 was shut until at least Monday from Colfax, California, through the Lake Tahoe region to the Nevada state line. The California Department of Transportation also closed many other roads while warning of slippery conditions for motorists.

“Expect major travel delays on all roads,” the National Weather Service office in Reno, Nevada, said Sunday on Twitter. “Today is the type of day to just stay home if you can. More snow is on the way too!” The weather service issued a winter storm warning for greater Lake Tahoe until 1am Tuesday because of possible “widespread whiteout conditions” and wind gusts that could top 45mph. Turbulent weather stretched from San Diego to Seattle. More than a foot of snow was reported near Port Angeles on Washington state's Puget Sound. Portland, Oregon received a dusting, but the city was expected to get another 2.5 inches by Monday morning, according to the weather service. Rare snow even piled up in Northern California's Santa Cruz Mountains, CBS San Francisco reports.

In California, rockslides caused by heavy rain closed more than 40 miles of coastal Highway 1 in the Big Sur region south of the San Francisco Bay Area. There was no estimate for the reopening of the scenic stretch that is frequently shut after wet weather. The latest in a series of blustery storms hit Southern California with heavy rain and wind that flooded streets and knocked down power lines late Saturday. Powerful gusts toppled trees, damaged carports and blew a track-and-field shed from a Goleta high school into a front yard two blocks away, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. No injuries were reported. The continuing storms were welcomed in parched California, where the Sierra snowpack had been at dangerously low levels after weeks of dry weather.

(Read more winter storm stories.)

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