Tahoe resorts tally 23 feet of snow since Jan. 1

RENO — Another nearly 3 feet of new snow fell on Sierra Nevada ski resorts — for a total of 23 feet since Jan. 1 in some places — and Reno recorded one of its snowiest days in 80 years Monday as skies began to clear and sunshine followed the latest in a series of winter storms into the region.

Two California men were rescued from their car after it was buried for about an hour in an avalanche on California State Highway 89 on the west side of Lake Tahoe and the roof of a liquor store collapsed early Monday under the weight of heavy snow in South Lake Tahoe, California.

No injuries were reported.

The avalanche covered about a 200-foot stretch of the highway in as deep as 12 feet of snow between Squaw Valley ski resort and Tahoe City, California south of Interstate 80 at about 3:30 a.m. Monday, closing the road until it was cleared Monday afternoon, the California Highway Patrol said.

David Ortiz of Alpine Meadows and Neale Allen Shutler of Tahoe City said they felt a strong gust of wind before their car was engulfed by the avalanche, with snow piled about 3 feet high on the roof of their vehicle — one of two caught in the snow slide.

They called 911 for help and the North Tahoe Fire Department was able to locate them.

“They had us out of there in under an hour,” Ortiz posted on his Facebook account. He told the East Bay’s ABC10 News they turned the car off to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and kept the hazard lights flashing to help emergency crews locate them.

“We wanted to keep calm and keep our spirits high,” Ortiz told the TV station.

The latest storm pushed the snow total since Jan. 1 to more than 23 feet at both Heavenly Mountain Resort at South Lake Tahoe, California and Kirkwood Mountain Resort about 15 miles south of Lake Tahoe.

Stephanie Myers, a spokeswoman for Vail Resorts, which owns both resorts, said it’s the snowiest January ever at those resorts. Heavenly was established in 1955 and Kirkwood in the early 1970s.

Since Nov. 1, more than 31 feet of snow has fallen at Kirkwood — a total of 381 inches, Myers said. She said 365 inches has fallen since then at Heavenly Mountain. Northstar near Truckee, California has received 283 inches this month, and 376 inches for the season.

At South Lake Tahoe, Fire Chief Jeff Meston said the roof collapsed and broke a sprinkler pipe at a liquor store at about 2:45 a.m. Monday.

Meston told Lake Tahoe News there was a “ton of water on the street” when crews arrived. He said local utility workers had to dig through more than a foot of snow to find the main shut-off valve. Animals at a nearby pet hospital were evacuated while officials inspected neighboring businesses.

The National Weather Service said the 7.6 inches of snow recorded at Reno-Tahoe International Airport Monday morning was the 17th largest 24-hour snowfall since it started keeping records in 1937.

Schools were cancelled throughout the Reno-Tahoe region on Monday, but the snow had melted off most Reno streets by Monday afternoon. Light snow showers were possible Tuesday, the weather service said, but no significant snowfall is expected in the mountains or the valleys over the next several days as a cold front moves in, pushing low temperatures into the teens in Reno and single digits around Lake Tahoe.

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