Live storm updates: I-80 closed in both directions over Donner Summit, CHP says

ByABC7 Bay Area Digital Staff and Lauren Martinez, Lena Howland, Cornell Barnard KGO logo
Saturday, March 2, 2024
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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- More rain is hitting the Bay Area and heavy snow is coming to the Sierra as the Lake Tahoe area is under a blizzard warning. Here are the latest updates.

TIMELINE: Tracking Level 2 storm in Bay Area with Lake Tahoe blizzard warning

LIVE: Track storm with Live Doppler 7


10:30 p.m. Black Bears come out as Sierra snowstorm moves in

As the snowstorm comes in the Sierra, the black bears are coming out of hibernation.

People living in the Sierra were busy Friday evening trying to stay ahead of what's expected to be a record-setting snowstorm.

"The wind comes up and hits 30 knots and it's just about a whiteout," said Randy Davis, a former ABC7 News photographer, now living in Truckee. "All day long we've heard the hum of snow blowers. It's been one after another. If you drive around, people are just clearing snow."

And the storm was already threatening to take out his home's power early in the evening. "We had a very close call earlier where we started to lose power, but luckily didn't. It just flashed and came back," explained Davis. "I think right now we're probably getting two or three inches an hour probably. So yeah - it's coming in."

And as the storm comes in, the black bears are coming out of hibernation.

"They're coming out already - they don't care what the weather is like, they don't care that there's going to be a snowstorm," said Ann Bryant, executive director of BEAR League, a nonprofit working to keep Lake Tahoe's black bears safe.

"People think as long as there is snow the bears are going to stay in hibernation and every year they're just shocked when they'll leave a cooler outside or food in their car, and they'll say, 'well I thought they were sleeping,'" said Bryant, who is ready to hunker down for at least a few days.

"We keep hearing this is going to be the storm of the century and it hasn't disappointed," said Bryant, who has lived in the area for more than 40 years. "It's been blowing, whiteouts accumulating, and it's pretty ferocious."

6:30 p.m. Sierra blizzard warning brings pleas to avoid travel

Caltrans has a checkpoint set up in Applegate making sure big rig drivers have chains for their journey to Lake Tahoe amid a heavy snowstorm.

A rare California blizzard is creating chaos in the high country Friday bringing near whiteout conditions to parts of the Sierra near Lake Tahoe.

Road conditions have been changing by the hour. Caltrans has a checkpoint set up in Applegate making sure big rig drivers have chains for the journey. But some truckers forgot to pack them.

"I couldn't go any further because I didn't have them, said Truck Driver Auddie Schrick.

Trucker Jason Dal Bianco is headed to Salt Lake City.

"I'm expecting to put on chains, I'm hoping the local government will let us know if it's safe to go other the pass," said Dal Bianco.

Tony Skeonik didn't wasn't aware of the the severe weather.

"Unfortunately, I have go to Reno and turn around and come back so I'm hoping for safe travels," said Skeonik.

California Highway Patrol has closed down I-80 in both directions over Donner Summit. They say travel is "highly discouraged" throughout the weekend.

"I towed up on the summit for years, stay home, don't go," said former tow truck driver Marty Tittle.

Ted Lowe was headed to Idaho in his RV, towing a Jeep. He's willing to risk the treacherous drive.

"We're going to go 'til we can't go no more, we'll cab up and turn the heater on and when it blows over, we'll keep on trucking," said Lowe.

4 hurt after tree collapses in San Francisco, fire department says

San Francisco Fire Department is asking the public to avoid the area of Laguna Street and Golden Gate Avenue after a fallen tree injured 4 occupants of a vehicle.

Multiple lanes are closed in both directions. Officials are advising those traveling to seek alternative routes.

Those injured are currently being evaluated by first responders, according to SFFD.

I-80 closed in both directions over Donner Summit due to low visibility, high winds, CHP says

California Highway Patrol has closed down I-80 in both directions over Donner Summit.

Westbound traffic is being turned around at the Nevada state line and eastbound traffic is being turned around at Drum Forebay.

CHP is reporting high winds, low visibility and spin-outs in the area.

There is no estimated time of reopening.

3 p.m. Mudslide closes northbound lanes of Hwy 9 in Santa Clara County

All lanes are closed on northbound Highway 9 due to a mudslide in Santa Clara County, according to Caltrans.

According to a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Caltrans say the slide happened north of Sanborn Road at South Saratoga Creek.

At this time, the closure is expected to remain in place through Saturday.

1:15 p.m. Sonoma opening temporary emergency warming center

Sonoma will open a temporary emergency warming center beginning Friday evening, city officials said.

The warming center at the Haven parking lot at 151 First St. W. will open at 7 p.m. Friday through 7 a.m. Monday, according to the city of Sonoma. It was initially planned to open from Saturday to Tuesday.

Unhoused people and residents without heat in their residences are asked to arrive at the center between 7-10 p.m. They will not be readmitted if they choose to leave the center before 7 a.m., city officials said.

People using the center can charge their electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. There are cots to sleep on, and light snacks and beverages may be provided.

City officials said food brought by registrants that is ready to eat and does not require refrigeration is allowed. There is no available cooking, meal service or kitchen access at the center.

Well-behaved pets may be allowed at the warming center at the sole discretion of the city's Warming Center manager. Service animals are permitted. City officials said more pet restrictions or pet boarding requirements may apply and will be provided to registrants.

If extreme weather conditions continue, the warming center may extend its hours of operation.

According to the National Weather Service, cold temperatures may prevail in the North Bay beginning Saturday morning until Monday morning.

11 a.m. Peak wind gusts reaching 145 mph in Palisades Tahoe

So far in the Sierra, Palisades Tahoe is taking the brunt of this storm with 145mph gusts. Alpine has hit 143 mph as of 11 a.m. Friday. Peak wind and snowfall is expected later Friday evening into early Saturday.

7 a.m. Palisades Tahoe, Alpine ski resorts closed today due to blizzard conditions

Palisades Tahoe announced that, due to intense snowfall and winds over 100 mph, all lifts at both Alpine and Palisades will be closed today,

5 a.m. Ski resorts warn to avoid Tahoe travel with monster blizzard expected to pummel the Sierra

The incoming monster blizzard is expected to pummel the Sierra, and some ski resorts have closures for the day and warning skiers to avoid travel.

The incoming monster blizzard is expected to pummel the Sierra. It's already coming down in Tahoe City Friday morning.

If you're thinking about skiing, snowboarding or sledding... don't.

The CHP. Caltrans, the National Weather Service and now even ski resorts are warning people that it's just not safe to drive up to the Sierra in these conditions right now.

Highway 80 at Highway 89 has lots of snow that still needs to be cleared off the highway. Drivers there have a slow go around Friday morning.

It was a similar story in Truckee overnight. Video taken between 1 and 3 a.m. shows snow plows already out working to clear the roads after the area was slammed with snow overnight.

The National Weather Service says up to 12 feet of snow is expected to fall in the Tahoe area over a 72-hour period. Coop, a spokesperson for Cali Pass Resorts which represents multiple ski resorts, is urging skiers eager to hit the slopes to think twice about their plans.

"Do not come up, not now, it's too much, you don't want to put the burden on Caltrans and CHP, the resorts are not going to be able to open," Kevin "Coop" Cooper says. "They will try, maybe some of their lower elevation lifts but the winds associated and with the amount of snow that we're going to see, give the mountain teams a break."

For safety, Palisades Tahoe will close the Alpine side of the resort Friday and Heavenly has closed for the day because of the forecasted winds.

Resorts are instead encouraging drivers to head up after the storm passes on Monday.

4:30 a.m. Parts of the Sierra Nevada likely to get 10 feet of snow from powerful storm by weekend

The most powerful Pacific storm of the season is forecast to bring up to 10 feet of snow into the Sierra Nevada by the weekend, forcing residents to take shelter and prompting Yosemite National Park and at least one Lake Tahoe ski resort to close.

The storm began barreling into the region on Thursday, with the biggest effects expected to close major highways and trigger power outages Friday afternoon into Saturday. A blizzard warning through Sunday morning covers a 300-mile (482-kilometer) stretch from north of Lake Tahoe to south of Yosemite National Park.

"Your safe travel window is over in the Sierra," the National Weather Service in Reno posted Thursday morning on social media. "Best to hunker down where you are."


11 p.m. Local snowboarders, skiers avoiding travel to Sierra

At Sports Basement in Sunnyvale, some snowboarders and skiers said they're avoiding travel to the mountains.

At Sports Basement in Sunnyvale, some snowboarders and skiers said they're avoiding travel to the mountains.

Milpitas resident Jason Ting was boarding in Tahoe this past weekend. "I'm staying away from that this weekend I think there's like 5-8 feet of snow," Ting said. And he's not wrong.

Others feel like they're going to be missing out on the fresh snowfall. San Jose resident Kathleen Pittman wish she could be there - but is looking forward to going this season. "As a newer snowboarder it's definitely easier to snowboard on fresh powder and fresh snow it makes the falls a little bit easier to take. So it's just really exciting and have everyone out there," Pittman said.

Depending on weather and demand, Sports Basement will run several Ski Buses that give snow enthusiasts a ride straight from the Bay Area to the slopes.

Last weekend they launched 23 buses. Phil Gor is the program director for Sports Basement Outdoors. "So this weekend we're going to be cancelling Saturday - it's kind of a no brainer with all the storms and you know we're looking at 80-90 mph winds on Saturday- Sunday is question mark- so we're planning to run buses but if it's safe," Gor said. Sports Basement will be adding what they're calling Powder Buses on Monday to take advantage after the storms. "Up and back in one day. We drive, you sleep is our little motto there," Gor said. San Jose resident Black Ochs said taking the ski bus is a great way to go. "That's allowed me the opportunity to meet people on the way up before I even get to the mountain," Ochs said.

Buses take off at 5 a.m. at different Sports Basement locations in Sunnyvale, Bryant Street in San Francisco and Berkeley. "When you arrive they have Red Bulls for you in case you're still a little bit groggy from waking up from the ride. And then you go out and ride six, seven, eight hours once you get back down to the bus they have some refreshments," Ochs said.

Those who are snow-bound are looking forward to what Mother Nature will bring.

5:45 p.m. North Bay communities open cold weather shelters as rain approaches

North Bay communities are gearing up to help their most vulnerable populations stay warm and dry during the storm.

The approaching cold wet, weather has some North Bay communities gearing up to help their most vulnerable populations stay warm and dry during the storm.

"You can't stay out there all day long without a meal in your stomach," said Sam Ojebola.

Ojebola is making sure that about 100 of his unhoused clients are getting a hot lunch.

On a cold, rainy day like this Ojebola opened his Jesus Cares 2020 dining room in Santa Rosa about four hours earlier to keep folks dry.

"Because we are all human. Living outside when it's cold during this time and weather is not good for someone's health," Ojebola said.

Toby Reville is staying in a local shelter at night, but he can't stay there during the day, so he's on his own on the streets.

"I'm actually trying to get to a place where I can get a warm drink, coffee until I can go back there," Reville said.

A crew from FS Global Solutions was preparing a giant tent that will be heated and used as an overnight warming shelter in the town of Sonoma this weekend. The company provides outreach services to North Bay communities.

"Set up cots, bring coffee and hot drinks, water and food to try and give people a place where they can shelter from the storm," said Max Morell-Foege from FS Global Solutions.

"We are anticipating this weekend, based on the National Weather Service wind chill temps and wet weather, we want to make sure we have space to our vulnerable population," said Sonoma City Manager David Guhin.

Escaping the rain and cold is what Reville will try to do this weekend. He just relocated to Santa Rosa from Pennsylvania.

"My heart goes out to each and every homeless person. They really get the short end of the stick," Reville said.

5 p.m. Blizzard conditions expected to bump up Sierra snowpack, CA water supply levels

This weekend's blizzard is expected to bring an epic amount of snow to the Sierra, upping the snowpack levels for the state.

This weekend's blizzard is expected to bring an epic amount of snow to the Sierra and that is great for the snowpack.

On Thursday, the third snow survey of the year was conducted at Philips station.

State water officials talked about where California's snow and reservoir levels stand.

Marcus Shelksohn of San Francisco can't wait to head to Lake Tahoe to hit the slopes.

"Going skiing, snowboarding. Trying to get my daughter up to the snow for the first time," Shelksohn said.

Shelksohn and many others know this incoming storm will bring lots of fresh powder.

And that's great news for the Sierra snowpack.

Because of the big storm coming, officials decided to conduct the snow survey on Thursday -- a day early -- near Lake Tahoe.

"Our snow survey today, we recorded a depth of about 47.5 inches, about four feet we are standing on. And a snow water content of 18 inches. That's about a foot and a half," said Andy Reising, an engineer with California Department of Water Resources. "If you took 48 inches and melted it down, that's essentially 18 inches of liquid water."

In the afternoon, the CA Department of Water Resources announced that its statewide snow pack is currently 80% of normal for this time of year. Last month, the statewide snow pack was 52% of normal

On Jan. 1, the California Sierra snowpack was just 28% of normal.

State water experts say the approaching storm could bring the snow levels up to average.

That's important, because during the summer, melting snow flows into the state's water table and fills reservoirs around California.

The statewide Sierra snowpack makes up about a third California's water supply. The recent atmospheric river storms have really boosted snow and water levels.

According to the map we have tracking reservoir capacity, Lake Berryessa is at 92% capacity.

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is at 90%.

"We are hoping to get some contributions to the snow pack from the storm that will bump that number," said Jeanine Jones, CA Department of Water Resources interstate resources manager.

Back to Marcus Shelksohn, he's just focused on one thing.

"Get ready to go for some deep snow," Shelksohn said.

4 p.m. Yosemite National Park announces closures amid Blizzard Warning

Yosemite National Park will be fully closed starting at 12:01 a.m. on Friday due to the anticipated weather conditions.

Park officials say they will re-assess the situation at 12 p.m. on Sunday.

Full story here.

3 p.m. Oakland Zoo closing Friday due to weather

Oakland Zoo announced it would be closing Friday, March 1 due to wet weather conditions.

1 p.m. PG&E warns of potential power outages ahead of storm

PG&E is warning of potential power outages in the Bay Area as a storm moves through the region Thursday through Sunday with persistent rain, heavy wind and even a rare blizzard warning further inland.

Winds could reach speeds of between 30-40 mph on Thursday while rain will intensify into Friday and continue throughout the weekend. Between 1.5-2 inches are forecast for San Francisco.

Dalton Behringer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the rain will cause moderate soil saturation, but he did not anticipate as significant problems as past storms with tree uprooting.

PG&E is staging crews and equipment in advance of the storm to expedite any repair work that is needed, but the utility warned that residents in remote, elevated areas could face days without power.

Snow is forecast for elevations above 2,000 feet and a few inches are forecast for Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County.

Road conditions in the Sierra foothills are expected to deteriorate rapidly on Friday as a blizzard warning is in effect from 4 a.m. Thursday to 10 a.m. Sunday. Driving conditions are forecast to be "nearly impossible," according to the Weather Service. Drivers are urged not to travel in the area. Closures are anticipated on Interstate Highway 80 and U.S. Highway 50.

A high surf advisory from the Weather Service is also in effect for coastal areas from 10 a.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday. Waves between 15-20 feet are forecast from the North Bay down to the Central Coast.

"The west-facing beaches are going to see the worst, so people need to be careful going out there," said Behringer.

He reminded beachgoers to not turn their back to the water and to be aware that waves can gather and break faster than anticipated during high surf events.

PG&E has an updated outage map that can be accessed here.

PG&E also reminded the public to never touch downed wires, use flashlights rather than candles if power goes out in the home, and to have a portable charging device for a cellphone.

11 a.m. Blizzard warning in effect for Sierra Nevada

The National Weather Service said Thursday morning that a blizzard warning is in effect for areas above 2,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada east of Sacramento through Sunday.

Caltrans officials said just before 9 a.m. that chain controls are in effect on eastbound Interstate Highway 80 from Kingvale to Truckee and westbound from Truckee to Rainbow.

According to Caltrans, eastbound traffic on Highway 80 is being turned away at Kingvale and Drum Forebay in Placer County because of an overturned truck. Trucks are being turned back at Applegate. Caltrans officials said there is no estimated time of reopening.

Forecasters said conditions will begin to deteriorate quickly in the mountains Thursday afternoon, with high winds and heavy snow causing white-out conditions at times.

The weather service said it's already snowing heavily over the Sierra and isn't expected to let up for the next three days. Forecasters expect 5 to 10 feet of snow above 5,000 feet and 1 to 4 feet above 3,000 feet.

Snowfall will be heaviest Thursday afternoon and evening and Friday afternoon. Wind gusts in the mountains are expected to reach up to 75 mph.

People in mountain areas can expect downed trees and power lines and extended power outages.

Forecasters asked drivers to stay off mountain roads, if possible, until the arriving storm is gone on Sunday. To check current road conditions, click here.

Bay City News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.