Blizzard in California’s Sierra Nevada brings nonstop snow, dangerous conditions

As snow totals continue to accumulate by the hour, winter storm warnings in California’s Sierra Nevada are expected to remain in effect until Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

The region has been experiencing relentless blizzard conditions since Thursday, resulting in the closure of a long stretch of Interstate 80 in California and residents being asked to take shelter as heavy snow and strong wind gusts threatened their safety.

The National Weather Service said Saturday that more than 3 inches of snow had been falling in the Sierra Nevada each hour and winds were blowing over 100 mph, causing whiteout conditions “making travel impossible through the area.”

An additional 2 feet of snow was expected along the Sierra Nevada through Sunday, it said.

Emerald Bay Road in Lake Tahoe, Calif., on March 1.Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu via Getty Images

This is the biggest snowstorm of the season, with additional blizzard and winter storm warnings extending to parts of Northern California and the state of Nevada.

“HIGH to EXTREME avalanche danger” is expected in the backcountry through Sunday evening throughout the central Sierra slopes between Yuba Pass and Ebbetts Pass, including the greater Lake Tahoe area, the weather service said.

Nevada’s transportation department urged people Saturday to avoid travel if they could, and said on X that it was “digging highways out of last night’s snow.”

Blizzard conditions in the region also prompted winter storm warnings in parts of Utah and Colorado.

The Sierra Nevada mountains
The Sierra Nevada mountains during a powerful winter storm in Truckee, Calif., on Friday.Mario Tama / Getty Images

The California Highway Patrol said Saturday it had “no estimated time of reopening” for Interstate 80, the main route between Reno and Sacramento.

The state patrol as well as other transportation officials and authorities previously reported responding to dozens of collisions on the freeway, vehicles sliding into snowbanks or getting stuck on the road, NBC Bay Area reported. There were no immediate reports of any serious injuries.

Snow blanketed houses along Donner Lake.
Snow blanketed houses along Donner Lake in Truckee, Calif., on Friday.Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu via Getty Images

Thousands of power customers in the regions affected by the blizzard experienced storm-related outages, according to Pacific Gas & Electric. Dave Ebbert, a supervisor for the utility company in the Sierra region, reported downed power lines on Interstate 80 and trees that have knocked down power lines in the area as of Friday.

By late Saturday, only about 18,000 power customers remained without power statewide, according to

“We’re going to work diligently to keep the community and the public safe,” Ebbert said. “We’re going to restore power safely in the most timely manner possible.”