Heavy rain and snow cause road closures in U.S., California

Heavy snow bookended the United States on Tuesday, with a late-season storm bringing a messy morning commute to the Northeast and California residents digging out, or in some cases simply stranded, after yet another storm.

There were crashes on highways and cities like San Jose got flooded out in some areas. The California Highway Patrol suggested drivers do not come to Santa Cruz on Highway 17 because of the snowy routes. In Tahoe, Highway 89 at Olympic Valley was closed and Interstate 80 to Reno was still closed early Tuesday morning.

An avalanche warning was issued for the backcountry around Lake Tahoe, where up to 6 feet of snow was expected over the next two days in the upper elevations and gale-force winds could create waves up to 5 feet  high on the lake, the National Weather Service said.

In the Bay Area, hail came down in Pleasanton, Livermore and San Francisco. More could be expected on Tuesday.

The Oakland Zoo was closed for a second day on Tuesday because of the inclement weather. 

Southern California got socked, too. 

San Bernardino County, east of Los Angeles, declared a state of emergency amid the latest snow event after many mountain residents were trapped in their homes over the weekend. Heavy snow stranded hundreds of motorists at higher elevations. 

Dozens of elementary school children were stranded at a science camp in Crestline for nearly a week, but buses escorted by the state highway patrol eventually evacuated them, the TV station reported. The county fire department used "specialized snow vehicles" to reach people who need critical medical care.

The new series of storms arrived even as parts of California were still digging out from last week’s powerful storm, which added to a massive snowpack left by a siege of "atmospheric rivers" in December and January.

A cold weather alert was declared for valley and mountain areas north of Los Angeles as overnight temperatures were expected to plunge below freezing for much of the week. Shelters were opened for residents without access to warmth.

While the mountainous areas around Los Angeles tried to dig out, rain fell on lower elevations of California, near the Pacific Coast. Storms were to continue moving through the state until the end of Wednesday. Blizzard warnings were in effect in the Sierra Nevada range in California and Nevada.

On the East Coast, the weather was chilly, as well.

A winter storm warning covered parts of the Northeast, including Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island, with heavy snow forecast through Tuesday afternoon.

Most of the nation’s flight cancelations or delays were concentrated in the Northeast early Tuesday. There were about 450 flight cancelations in the U.S. and over 500 delays, according to FlightAware.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.