Avalanche warning at Lake Tahoe, north shore schools closed

Schools were closed on Lake Tahoe's north shore and a back-country avalanche warning was issued for much of the central Sierra ahead of a winter storm packing heavy snow and winds gusting in excess of 100 mph.

A winter storm warning was in effect Thursday until 10 p.m. for the Tahoe area, where as much as 18 inches (45 cm) was possible above elevations of 7,000 feet and up to 2 feet on ridge tops.

A winter weather advisory was in effect until 8 p.m. for Carson City, Reno and Sparks, where big, fluffy snowflakes started falling Thursday afternoon. Up to 5 inches of snow was forecast in the foothills.

All schools were closed Thursday in Incline Village just east of the California-Nevada line.

The Sierra Avalanche Center in Truckee, California issued the avalanche warning for the back-country around Tahoe stretching from the Yuba pass on Highway 49 in the north to Ebbetts pass on Highway 4 to the south.

Forecasters say the approaching storm is stronger than the one Tuesday that produced less snow, but wind gusts up to 137 mph atop a ski resort on Tahoe's west shore.