Schools closed Friday due to storm |

Schools closed Friday due to storm

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – All Lake Tahoe Unified School District schools will be closed Friday due to the severity of the storm passing through South Lake Tahoe.

A severe weather warning is in place from the National Weather Service through 11 a.m. Friday.

The storm has also closed highways around the Northern Nevada and California area including Interstate 80.

The latest in a blustering series of wet, chilly storms swept across California on Thursday, knocking out power and raising fears of flooding, while closing two main highways.

And it’s not over yet. About an inch of rain had fallen across much of Northern California by late afternoon and “we could get another quarter-inch of rain and a foot of snow at the higher elevations,” said Johnnie Powell, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sacramento. Sierra ridges could be scoured by 120 mph gusts overnight.

The region will get a brief breather before another storm moves in late Friday or early Saturday.

The California Highway Patrol on Thursday stopped all traffic on Interstate 80 – the main highway from Nevada to Northern California – amid whiteout conditions and the threat of avalanches in the Sierra.

Thursday’s storms are the latest in a series that has swelled lakes, reservoirs and rivers in much of the state, prompting flood concerns in some areas. Officials at Shoreline Unified School District in Marin County closed campuses amid concerns about road flooding.

Ski resorts were touting the storms, which added more than 8 feet of snow this week.

The deep white blanket is a mixed blessing, however. Building standards in the mountains call for structures that can withstand 700 inches of snow, but many areas of the Sierra Nevada have already received more than 600, said Rui Cunha, assistant director of emergency services for Placer County.

If you usually live elsewhere but visit a mountain cabin, use caution: If doors stick or siding is buckled, it may be a sign of snow load damage, he said. Don’t try to clear snow from the roof because you may hit a hidden power line or cause damage by removing the strain unevenly.

Cunha also warned cabin-goers to make sure flues and exhaust systems are unobstructed before they fire up heating systems, and to call 9-1-1 if they smell natural gas.

Storms in March can be particularly dangerous in California because warming weather allows rain at high elevations, which can melt the snowpack and inundate areas downstream. Powell said these storms have been cold, with snow as low as 2,500 feet, which has helped limit the danger.

“We’ve got numerous trees down and the ground is soggy, so all the rivers are running high,” he said, but “if it was warmer there’d be a lot more water.”

The next storm in line isn’t expected to be quite as fierce, with weaker winds, but it could add rain and snow into Sunday before things start to dry out.

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