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Sierra snowstorm brings avalanche warnings

December 24, 2012 | 11:56 am

Another blanket of snow is forecast to cover Lake Tahoe Tuesday, making for a white Christmas that could be more of a nightmare than a dream for authorities inundated with car crashes and one avalanche.

"We're just ready for continued winter fun," California Highway Patrol Officer Pete Mann deadpanned.

Authorities in the north Tahoe ski community of Olympic Valley, also known as Squaw Valley, were busy over the weekend closing roads and helping skiers and snowboarders after more than 4 feet of snow buried the town. In some areas there was up to 6 feet of snow.

"It was a good storm, easily the biggest one of the year so far," Mann said. "It was right up there, so much snow in such a condensed period of time."

Storms of varied temperature and intensity covered the mountain in layers of heavy and light snowpack. It was a light layer that on Sunday morning partially buried two skiers.

A group of snowboarders near the top of a ski lift triggered the avalanche, Mann said. The two buried skiers were quickly rescued and one was briefly hospitalized with a shoulder injury.

"It made for a wet and wild weekend," Mann said.

Though there have been a lot of car crashes, none has been fatal, he said.

Authorities and visitors will get a brief reprieve from the harsh weather on Monday. Squaw Valley officials lowered the avalanche warning to "considerable."

But officials will raise the warning to "high" on Christmas and into Wednesday, Mann said.

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-- Joseph Serna

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