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Blizzard leaves hundreds of drivers stranded in the mountains of Northern California

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news. A winter storm hit parts of California and Nevada over the weekend. Some areas saw six feet of snow and wind gusts in excess of 140 miles per hour. Yosemite National Park closed. I hope so. So did many ski areas in the region. A main road in and out of Lake Tahoe is closed, and there's no estimate when it will reopen. Sophia Holm of member station KUNR. Reports from Incline Village, Nev.

(SOUNDBITE OF SNOWBLOWER)

SOPHIA HOLM, BYLINE: Many people in the Lake Tahoe area spent their weekends using snowblowers and shovels to clear snow from driveways and decks.

(SOUNDBITE OF SNOWBLOWER)

HOLM: All across town, you could hear snowblowers as people work to dig out from the storm. Tens of thousands of people lost power at one point. Last year, the region got plenty of snow, but this year it's been a mild winter until this blizzard. Chris Johnston, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, Nev., says there have been a number of big storms in the past six years. He says Tahoe City received 41 inches of snow, or 3 1/2 feet, during the weekend.

CHRIS JOHNSTON: The last time that that happened was actually 2021 on December 27, with 41 1/2 inches. And then before that, January 29, with 46.5.

HOLM: He says it's not common to get so many blizzards in short order, but the Lake Tahoe area has had eight since 2016. Since the storm began on Friday, road closures stalled travel, especially as the main highway in and out of Lake Tahoe, Interstate 80, closed down. It's been bad in California, too. The severe conditions caused many of the California Department of Transportation's snowblowers to break down, slowing efforts to clear roads in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOVELING)

HOLM: With slightly better conditions on Sunday, gas stations and restaurants were bustling. Businesses that were prepared for the storm got supplies delivered beforehand. Jamie Swing runs T's Rotisserie, one of the few open restaurants in Incline Village, on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

JAMIE SWING: We're lucky 'cause we got a lot of our deliveries early because our purveyors knew that the weather was going to be bad, so we kind of stocked up on all of our stuff.

HOLM: Swing says many of the restaurant's employees live in town, allowing them to avoid road closures. While this storm system moves east, another smaller one is forecast to hit in a few days.

For NPR News, I'm Sophia Holm in Incline Village, Nev.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Sophia Holm

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