Storm Dumps up to 4 Feet of Snow in West, Moves Eastward
Undated (AP) _ Near-blizzard conditions blew into the Dakotas today from a storm that dumped up to 4 feet of snow from the Sierras to the Rockies. So much snow fell in Utah that a World Cup ski race was postponed.
The snow delighted early-season recreational skiers but sent cars skidding off roads and into each other, prompted some avalanche warnings and caused power outages.
Icy roads were blamed for car crashes that killed three people in Montana on Sunday. Some schools were closed in Minnesota today.
Interstate highways and smaller roads were closed at times during the weekend, causing major traffic jams as Thanksgiving holiday travelers tried to return home.
I-80 over Donner Summit at Truckee, Calif., was closed for nearly 10 hours into early Sunday, and the California Highway Patrol reported traffic delays of three to four hours through the pass later in the day. The National Weather Service said the storm dumped 13 inches of snow on Donner Summit on Friday and another 38 inches Saturday and early Sunday.
In Utah, World Cup officials determined that conditions were too dangerous for men’s slalom races Sunday at Park City, which got nearly two feet of snow by nightfall.
But the snow meant other ski areas were able to open.
″There’s an awful lot of (snow) out there. It’s a welcome sight,″ said Angela Gaines, an Alta Ski Lift employee. Alta had 26 inches of snow by Sunday night.
However, the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center issued an avalanche warning for the mountains around Salt Lake City, Provo and Park City.
In addition to snow, the storm also yielded two funnel clouds and 50-60 mph winds in southern Davis County in Utah, but authorities reported no damage or injuries. High winds also were blamed for power interruptions in Utah’s Santa Clara County.
In Montana on Sunday, three people died in crashes on icy roads, while passengers in about 1,000 cars and trucks on I-90 between Bozeman and Livingston were stuck in a traffic jam 10 miles long, the state highway patrol said. The patrol temporarily closed the highway’s westbound lanes.
The storm moved east today, piling up heavy snow in Colorado’s northern and central mountains and in the western Dakotas.
″Near blizzard conditions, that’s what it’s like in the western Dakotas,″ Karl Swanberg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Minneapolis, said early today.
″It’s gusting 50 mph, producing near zero visibility″ around Rapid City, S.D., Swanberg said.
No snowfall estimates were available early today. ″It’s hard to measure when it’s blowing around like that,″ he said.
Temperatures were expected to drop into the low teens and as many as 8 inches of snow were forecast for northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.
All Moorhead, Minn., schools canceled classes today after the area got four inches of snow during the night. Two- to 3-foot snowdrifts were common, said meteorologist Bob Nordlund of the National Weather Service in Fargo, N.D.
In the Pacific Northwest, the storm dumped snow in most of Oregon’s mountains. Two of the state’s largest ski resorts - Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor ski area in central Oregon - opened Sunday.
″If you open before Thanksgiving, that means a great year. Now we’re going to have to settle for a good year,″ said Gary Hohnstein, assistant general manager of Timberline Lodge, where two of five chairlifts opened Sunday. But that was three days too late for a resort that relies on sales up to $50,000 a day during the holiday weekend.