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TV documentary to show danger of winter on I-80

TRUCKEE, Calif. – National Geographic is airing a 10-part documentary that captures the trials and triumphs of keeping Interstate 80 open through the winter over the Sierra Nevada’s Donner Summit.

“Hell on the Highway,” running Wednesdays at 10 p.m., stars the treacherous winter of 2010-11 when more than 700 inches of snow fell – nearly 60 feet.

“We are telling the story of the men and women in tow trucks, Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol who fight the snow every winter to keep Donner Pass and I-80 open,” said Conal O’Herlihy, line producer with America’s Star Media, which has created award-winning documentaries such as “Deadliest Warrior.” “An element to the story is how vital I-80 is not just to California, but to the nation.”

Production crews stood at the ready for killer storms after promising snow accumulations in late fall 2011. They waited, and waited.

The lid finally blew off in February, after some of the longest dry spells in recent history, with back-to-back storms depositing up to 6 feet at the local resorts. Film crews braved the elements side by side with tow truck drivers, Caltrans and the CHP.

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