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Heavy Snow, Rain In California

January 5, 1987

Undated (AP) _ More than 3 feet of snow fell on parts of California’s Sierra Nevada range, stalling motorists and causing scattered power outages, but for ski resorts it was the end of a snow drought.

Heavy rain fell at lower elevations, including more than 2 inches around San Francisco Bay, and southern California had numerous traffic accidents Sunday, including one 20-car pileup, and a mudslide that blocked roads connecting two freeways.

Winter storm warnings and traveler’s advisories were posted Sunday morning for much of the Sierra range, where some areas received more than three feet of snow through Saturday night.

The advisories were lifted in the afternoon. Much of Northern California received showers and some areas of the Sierra received more snow, but National Weather Service forecasters said the amounts were lighter than expected in the afternoon as the storm system was concentrated in Nevada and Southern California.

Winter storm warnings also remained in effect Sunday for the mountains of northern Arizona and northwestern, northern and central New Mexico.

Upper elevations of the Lake Tahoe area on the California-Nevada border received 3 1/2 feet of snow, said Ira Kosovitz of the weather service in Reno, Nev. Incline reported 2 feet, Sierra Ski Ranch 33 inches, Kingsbury Grade 25 inches and Norden 3 feet, he said.

Meteorologist Randy Hartley said 13 inches fell overnight at Truckee, where heavy snow kept California Highway Patrol officers busy with stranded motorists all day Saturday. Some motorists were surprised by snow encountered at lower elevations than usual.

The storm caused scattered power outages in the Reno and Lake Tahoe areas Saturday, leaving three Donner Summit area ski resorts - Boreal Ridge, Donner Ski Ranch and Sugar Bowl - without electricity for about six hours.

The snow was good news for northern California ski resorts, which had been having one of their worst seasons on record because of little snow.

″I just got a call from a guy at Mammoth who said he had six inches on the ground when he left at 5:30 last night,″ Hartley said. ″When he arrived this morning, he had another two feet on top of that.″

Hartley said Blue Canyon had 22 inches of new snow by closing time Saturday and another eight inches or so by Sunday morning.

Kerry Bullock, Squaw Valley USA’s marketing coordinator, said her resort received from 6 to 12 inches of snow. She said Squaw was ″almost fully operational″ with 19 lifts operating.

″I’d say skiers are ecstatic and we are, too,″ Bullock said. ″Skiing should be very good now. It’s been marginal in that there’s been a lot of bare spots. The new snow gives us additional coverage so skiers can relax and ski without having to use extreme caution.″

The first storm of 1987 also dropped rain across southern California on Sunday and snow capped mountains above 4,000 feet. But the storm was losing strength as it headed east trailing thundershowers.

Numerous accidents were reported throughout southern California, and transition roads from the northbound Orange Freeway to the westbound Pomona Freeway were blocked by a midday mudslide, the Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reported.

Twenty cars were involved in an accident on the Hollywood Freeway but it was not immediately known if slick roads were the cause. Fire Department spokesman Jim Wells said there were seven minor injuries.

Tire chains were required on some mountain roads in Riverside County, south of Los Angeles County, and police warned of heavy rain and fog.

The storm arrived just days after the end of a period of extraordinarily high tides caused by a rare alignment of the sun, moon and Earth. The high tides, which occurred between Dec. 28 and Jan. 2, could have caused coastal flooding if they coincided with big storms, as happened last week on the East Coast.

″There were some problems in the last couple of days with docks coming apart, some near-misses with boats coming close to the rocks and boats trying to enter the harbor in large waves,″ said Coast Guard Officer Curtis Podhora at Oxnard. But no problems were reported Sunday.

Elsewhere, up to 8 inches of snow fell on parts of southern Missouri during the night and early Sunday. A bus accident and a traffic fatality were blamed on that weather.

The snow ″hit very suddenly and very heavily. It was wet, slick snow that causes a lot of problems,″ said Cpl. Jerry Crismon of the Missouri Highway Patrol’s Poplar Bluff office. ″I think our guys worked 34 accidents yesterday that involved accidents. That’s not counting little fender benders.″

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