Snow slams the Sierra |

Snow slams the Sierra

Associated PressThe early winter storm socking it to the Sierra is bringing needed rain and welcome snow to drought stricken northern Nevada but also threatens problems in areas scarred by wildfires.The first major storm of the season already has forced the evacuation of at least 200 residents in the Sierra Nevada because of potential mudslides and knocking out power Tuesday to at least 144,000 residents.As much as a foot of snow was expected at Lake Tahoe and 2 to 4 feet in the higher elevations by late Wednesday. Snow was forecast to reach the valley floors around Reno and Carson City at some point Wednesday morning.Chains or snow tires were required on all the Sierra passes. Chains remained mandatory on U.S. Interstate 80 from the Donner Lake interchange west of Truckee, Calif., for about 13 miles west to the Kingvale exit.Ski resorts and their fans welcomed the snow.”The mountain’s covered and it looks really great,” said Scott Davidson, manager of the Granite Chief winter sports store in Olympic Valley. People are bringing skis in to get tuned or are talking about buying skis, snowboards or snow boots, Davidson said.”People are starting to think about winter,” Davidson said. “The excitement is in the air.”The storm, which brought winds gusting to nearly 60 mph and dumped rain from the coast to the mountains, was about two months ahead of schedule, according to the National Weather Service. But forecasters say it’s too early to tell whether it means the region is in for a wetter winter.”It’s going to be a wet week, but it doesn’t necessarily predict anything more than that,” said Mark Stobin, lead forecaster in Monterey, Calif.Lake Tahoe and most of the mountain regions south and west of Carson City and north and west of Reno remained under a winter storm warning through Wednesday morning.A 37-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 50 remained closed between Meyers and Pollock Pines due to concerns about flooding and mudslides in areas that burned in wildfires in recent days.About 200 residents in the hamlets of Kyburz and Silver Fork along the South Fork of the American River were told to clear out Sunday, two days after being allowed to return home as the fire danger abated.In the past, catastrophic slides have demolished houses and buried the highway and the river in a mountain of mud.Heavy rainfall also could bring trouble to parts of northern Nevada burned by summer wildfires, but officials said two burn areas near Carson City’s Waterfall Fire and the Andrew Fire south of Reno have survived the storm so far without any major problems.Meanwhile, another storm was brewing in the Pacific and was expected to result in moderate rains up and down the California coast Saturday and Sunday, followed by more severe rains and snow in the mountains Monday and Tuesday.

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