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‘Life-Threatening’ Storm Headed for California: Blizzards, Hurricane-Strength Winds Expected

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A dangerous storm is on its way to California’s winter resort region, bringing “life-threatening” conditions and a potential to dump more than 12 feet (3.7 meters) of snow.

A blizzard warning is in effect from Thursday through Sunday for Northern California, including the Lake Tahoe resort area in the Sierra Nevada, where wind and blowing snow will make travel treacherous, the National Weather Service said. 

“They will get pretty slammed,” said Jennifer Tate, a forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center. “We have snow totals in the multiple feet for the highest peaks of the Sierra.”

The storm is coming in colder than several past systems so it will bring a lot more snow over a larger region, Tate said. Mountain travel will be nearly impossible with hurricane-strength gusts potentially triggering power outages, the weather service warned. 

Heavy snow can cause deadly avalanches in the Sierra mountains. In January, one person was killed and three were injured by an avalanche at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort near Lake Tahoe.

While it is dangerous to travelers and residents, deep snow is vital for California’s water needs. The snow pack acts as a frozen reservoir that melts in late spring and early summer bringing water to the lowlands.

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