163 MPH winds and other winter woes hit LH

Three large winter storms have combined to cause what is being called by the National Weather Service “easily the strongest systems to impact the West Coast this winter season and quite possibly the last few years.” The affected area stretches from San Francisco, where 1.5 million lost power, to Fernley, Nevada, east of Reno, where a half-foot of snow caused a 30-foot break in a levee wall of the Truckee Canal, releasing water 3 feet deep into town, flooding homes and stranding 3,500. US 50 has been closed at times for avalanches, and those wanting to drive it must use tire chains. Ten feet of snow is expected in the Sierra Nevadas by Sunday.

UM_snow in Sierras
LHA president Henry Joy takes a break for fun in the high snows of the Sierras.

According to CNN:

As the storm moved eastward Saturday, it sent whipping winds and heavy snow into parts of Utah and Colorado, prompting authorities to close major highways — including Interstate 80 east — as the National Weather Service warned that traveling in the area “will put your life at risk.”

“Do not attempt to travel in the Sierra (region) today,” the meteorological agency said in a special weather statement….

One gust near Donner Peak measured 163 miles per hour.

The New York Times reports that I-80 was closed overnight, then reopened Saturday but tire chains were mandatory on a 60-mile stretch. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was even in touch with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

 Here’s a short news video about Truackee followed by one on Donner Summit.

Storms also spread across Wyoming on Thursday, causing, among other damage, the roof and walls to collapse at the Moondance Diner near Green River. The 1930s factory-built diner was moved in 2007 on a trip closely paralleling the Lincoln Highway: from near the Holland Tunnel entrance in lower Manhattan, New York City, to the small town of LeBarge, Wyoming. Read more here.

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