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Late-season storm dishes out hefty snow in California mountains

By Renee Duff, Accuweather.com
Late-season storm dishes out hefty snow in California mountains
The University of California-Berkeley's Central Sierra Snow Lab on Friday reported 16.9 inches of snow over the past day. Photo by UC Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab/Twitter

In what appeared to be a last-ditch effort to overcome a lackluster wet season, the atmosphere dished out more than 2 feet of snow that snarled travel in California's Sierra Nevada during the latter part of the week.

California Highway Patrol posted a picture on Twitter of a vehicle that slid off the roadway and into a river in Truckee, California, as snow fell heavily and covered the ground during the morning hours.

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Earlier this week, AccuWeather meteorologists had warned that motorists should anticipate difficult driving conditions as well as possible closures at the pass level.

"Traffic is slow and go due to spin-outs, traffic collisions, high winds, periods of low visibility, lions and tigers and big rigs... Oh my," a CHP sergeant said during a livestream on Twitter.

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Motorists who ventured out in the storm faced chain controls and occasional closures due to traffic collisions, spinouts and jack-knifed tractor-trailers along Interstate 80.

A car nearly slid off the road and into a river in Truckee, California, as heavy snow fell across the region on April 21, 2022. Photo by California Highway Patrol

Travel remained difficult into Friday morning as snow slowly began to wind down. Eastbound lanes of I-80 at Overland Trail were closed for about an hour after a tractor-trailer overturned in slippery conditions. The driver of the big rig only sustained minor injuries, according to KRNV.

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South Lake Tahoe was even blanketed in a fresh coat of snow. In addition to mayhem on the roadways, the heavy snow totals also brought some welcome news.

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Just over 31 inches of snow was reported from the storm at the University of California Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab, where blue sky and sunshine began to emerge Friday as the storm moved eastward.

The research station stated that the fresh powder boosted the snow-water equivalent to 61 of normal for the date, an increase of 42 since April 11. Snow-water equivalent is simply the amount of liquid water contained within a snowpack once it has melted.

Elsewhere in the central Sierra, weather reporting stations recorded 6-12 inches of snow by early Thursday afternoon, but with snow continuing to fall at that time, final snow tallies are likely to be even higher.

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California's reservoir system relies on a deep snowpack to supply water from snowmelt runoff for the drier summer months. As of April 21, each of the state's reservoirs was running significantly below its historical average for capacity, according to the Department of Water Resources.

AccuWeather's long-range outlook does not hold much promise for additional snow to further boost the region's water supply as dry and mild weather is expected to settle in through the final days of April.

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