2 backcountry skiers escape Mount Rose avalanche near Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

2 backcountry skiers escape Mount Rose avalanche near Lake Tahoe

Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Two backcountry skiers escaped uninjured Thursday after they were caught in an avalanche that closed the state highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe in a part of the Sierra Nevada where as much as 6 feet of snow has fallen over the past four days.

“Luckily, no one was hurt,” said Meg Ragonese, spokeswoman for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

The man and woman whose names were not released ended up walking off the mountain on their own after rescue crews responded about 12:20 p.m. Thursday along the Mount Rose Highway west of the Mount Rose ski resort, Washoe County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff McCaskill said.

North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District spokeswoman Tia Rancourt said the skiers were “already out of harm’s way up on a hillside in the avalanche area” when the crews arrived.

“One of the skiers had assisted the other one,” she said. “Paramedics conducted a medical evaluation and they were released.”

Rago nese said the avalanche on U.S. Forest Service land struck a few vehicles traveling on the highway west of the summit near an area popular for sledding and cross-country skiing about 30 miles southwest of Reno.

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At least two vehicles ended up getting stuck in several feet of snow, but NDOT snowplows were able to free them, she said.

Ragonese said the highway would remain closed for an indefinite period Thursday while crews attempted to trigger some man-made avalanches in an effort to reduce the threat of future snow slides.

Blizzard conditions had forced the closure of the highway – State Route 431 – most of Wednesday. A small avalanche briefly trapped three vehicles on an access road at the ski resort then, but no one was hurt.

At least 2 feet of snow has fallen in the past two days at ski resorts in the Tahoe area. A total of 70 inches has been recorded atop the Mount Rose resort since Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Earlier Thursday, the California Highway Patrol reopened a 50-mile stretch of U.S. Interstate 80 that was closed Wednesday night over Donner Pass west of Truckee, California. But chains or snow tires remained mandatory Thursday on all the Sierra passes stretching from south of Carson City to north of Reno.

Several schools in the Tahoe area canceled classes Thursday and others started late.

Between 3 and 5 inches of snow was reported Wednesday night into Thursday in the Reno-Sparks area, where authorities were raising concerns about potential flooding into the weekend.

The weather service issued a flash flood watch effective Saturday night through Monday morning throughout the region as another storm system moves in with warmer temperatures. As much as 4 inches of rain is forecast in Reno this weekend, with 6 to 12 inches in the Tahoe basin.

UPDATE

Rescue crews in the Sierra Nevada say two backcountry skiers caught in an avalanche escaped injury in the snow slide that closed the state highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe.

Washoe County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff McCaskill says the back-country skiers – a man and a woman – ended up walking off the mountain on their own after rescue crews responded about 12:20 p.m. Thursday along the Mount Rose Highway west of the Mount Rose ski resort.

North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District spokeswoman Tia Rancourt says the skiers already were out of harm’s way when paramedics arrived, conducted a medical evaluation and released them. No one else was hurt.

Nevada Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meg Ragonese says the avalanche passed through a few vehicles traveling on the highway west of the summit near an area popular for sledding and cross-country skiing about 30 miles southwest of Reno.

She says at least two vehicles ended up getting stuck in several feet of snow, but NDOT snowplows were able to free them.

Ragonese says the highway would remain closed for an indefinite period Thursday while crews attempt to trigger some man-made avalanches in an effort to reduce the threat of future snow slides.

ORIGINAL STORY

RENO, Nev. (AP) — An avalanche closed the state highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe on Thursday, and authorities were trying to determine whether anyone was trapped in the area where as much as 6 feet of snow has fallen over the past four days.

Several cars were buried by the avalanche just after noon Thursday west of the summit of Mount Rose near the Mount Rose ski area about 30 miles southwest of Reno, Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Gordon said. He said one person may have been trapped but he’s been unable to confirm that. It wasn’t immediately clear if the vehicles were traveling on the highway or parked along the side.

“We’ve got troopers on the scene now. There’s several feet of snow across the roadway,” Gordon said Thursday afternoon.

Blizzard conditions forced the closure of the highway – State Route 431 – most of Wednesday. A small avalanche briefly trapped three vehicles on an access road at the ski resort then, but no one was hu rt.

At least 2 feet of snow has fallen in the past two days at ski resorts in the Tahoe area. A total of 70 inches has been recorded atop the Mount Rose resort since Sunday, the National Weather Service said.

Earlier Thursday, the California Highway Patrol reopened a 50-mile stretch of U.S. Interstate 80 that was closed Wednesday night over Donner Pass west of Truckee, California. But chains or snow tires remained mandatory Thursday on all the Sierra passes stretching from south of Carson City to north of Reno.

Several schools in the Tahoe area canceled classes Thursday and others started late.

Between 3 and 5 inches of snow was reported Wednesday night into Thursday in the Reno-Sparks area, where authorities were raising concerns about potential flooding into the weekend.

The weather service issued a flash flood watch effective Saturday night through Monday morning throughout the region as another storm system moves in with warmer temperatures. As much as 4 inches of rain is forecast in Reno this weekend, with 6 to 12 inches in the Tahoe basin.

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