Storm packs a punch |

Storm packs a punch

A powerful winter storm blew into Truckee and Tahoe over the weekend, bringing as much as 14 feet of new powder in higher elevations, according to local ski resorts.Beginning Saturday and continuing through Tuesday evening, the storm pounded Truckee almost non-stop, closing most area highways at one point and knocking out power throughout the region.A Sugar Bowl representative said as much as 14 feet (168 inches) of new snow had accumulated since the weekend, while Randall Osterhuber of the Sierra Snow Lab on Donner Summit could account for 73 inches of new snow.Meanwhile, snow removal crews were busy trying to keep up, working around the clock to clear roads, said Tamara Blanton of the Truckee Department of Public Works.Extra helpIn addition to the dozen crew members normally working 12-hour shifts, Blanton said crews from Heavy Equipment, S&R Snow Removal, Advanced Asphalt, Summit Crane, Al Pombo Excavating and Keith McCauley were hired on to help out.”We normally don’t do that,” Blanton said. “We usually ask one or two of them to help us out, but we were running short to start with.”According to Blanton, one of the hardest-hit areas was Tahoe Donner.Many of the side streets in Tahoe Donner were bermed in, in order to clear main thoroughfares, Blanton said.”We wanted Northwoods clear but, unfortunately, because it was a wet snow, the crews sent to clear berms were not as fast as the grader ahead of them,” she said.Running out of placesShe said crews are running out of places to put snow, resulting in the use of snow blowers, an effective, but slow method.Adding to the frustration of residents were power outages in the Armstrong Tract, Donner Lake, Tahoe Donner and Prosser.”Basically, they were limited to tap lines, so we had no major outages,” said Truckee-Donner Public Utility District electrician Bob Quinn.He said most were a result of snow unloading from lines and no one was out of power for more than three hours.”There were access problems, but for a storm this size, we came through very well,” Quinn said.One of the most visible effects of the storm was the closure of roads.Highways 267 and 89 between Truckee and Lake Tahoe were closed for accidents and poor visibility on Tuesday, while part of Interstate 80 was shut down all day.Wes Maehler of the California Highway Patrol said westbound I-80 through Truckee was closed at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, and not opened again until 6:30 p.m.He said eastbound I-80 was closed intermittently throughout the day.While motorists chained up to get around town, semi trucks lined up along Donner Pass Road and 89, awaiting the reopening of the interstate.The storm also forced schools around the lake to shut down.Truckee schools were closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.Back to Front Page

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