Blizzard warning for the Sierra, I-80 re-opened

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The National Weather Service on Thursday issued a blizzard warning, predicting as much as five feet of snow before the weekend is over. Wind gusts could hit 60 mph in the valleys.

Forecasters say the cold front will bring snow to the foothill areas of the Sierra as low as 3,500 feet before moving south. The U.S. Forest Service has issued an avalanche watch for the Sierra backcountry around Lake Tahoe.

According to Caltrans District 3, Highway 20 is closed to thru traffic north of Nevada City due to I-80 closure for zero visibility. I-80 re-opened around 3:00 p.m. to passenger vehicles but remained closed to big rigs. 

Caltrans says the road conditions could be hazardous. The California Highway Patrol is advising people to not drive up to the ski resorts during the storm, or at least have chains on.

"The last thing you want to do is learn how to put chains on in the middle of the storm," CHP Sgt. Dave Lavezzoli said.

"It's really shaping up to be an awesome March," said Kevin 'Coop' Cooper with Vail Resorts. "This is a big storm guys, so definitely it's not time to get in the car and rush on up here. Definitely traveling today and tomorrow is not a good idea. And I rarely say that."

Cooper said it's going to be a challenge to keep the lifts open at the top of the mountain, but lower elevations will be fine. He says Northstar is a very wind-sheltered resort so there shouldn't be a problem there. 

Just before 2:00 p.m. Cooper announced that Kirkwood had closed early due to the storm. 

 Another system should arrive Tuesday into Wednesday next week.

Snowfall in the past 12 hours (as of 7 a.m.)

8" of new snow at Kirkwood
3" at Northstar 
1" at Heavenly

Over the last 7 days 

36" Kirkwood 
24" at Heavenly 
16" at Northstar