Five people were swept up in an avalanche at a Lake Tahoe-area ski resort, hours after the body of a missing snowboard had been discovered there, as a powerful winter storm pounded much of the state on Friday.
More than 100 search and rescue officials and several rescue dogs responded to Squaw Valley Ski Resort after the avalanche roared down a mountain near the Olympic Lady chairlift around 1:40 p.m., according to a statement from the resort.
Two women and three men were eventually rescued from beneath the snow. One person suffered a "serious lower body injury" and was hospitalized, while another was treated for injuries at a medical facility near the resort and later released, Squaw Valley staff said.
Placer County sheriff's officials said none of the injuries were life-threatening, and the other three people were able to leave the scene unharmed.
Heather Turping told the Associated Press she was snowboarding when a scream of “Avalanche!” rang out and she saw “a cloud of snow coming down.”
“It was massive,” she said. “It just happened to literally pass a foot in front of me.”
Turping said she helped a woman dig her husband out after they spotted his snowboard protruding from beneath the blanket of snow.
“When he got uncovered, a ski patroller said, ‘You were under for six minutes,’” she said.
All missing people have since been accounted for, the resort said. It's unknown what triggered the avalanche, and the incident is under investigation.
Guests at the resort had been warned of the potential danger, and explosives and other preventative measures were used on Friday, but the snowfall was heavy, Squaw Valley spokeswoman Liesl Hepburn told the AP. Following the avalanche, the resort was closed for the remainder of the day.
All skiing and riding operations had been suspended earlier in the day after a snowboarder, missing since the previous afternoon, was found dead.
Rocklin resident Wenyu Zhang, 42, was found by Squaw Valley Ski Patrol, according to the Placer County Sheriff's Office. He had gone missing amid a blizzard that dropped nearly 3 feet of snow with gusts up to 150 mph.
A location-tracking device Zhang was wearing assisted rescuers in finding his body, authorities said.
A blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service expired Friday, but a storm warning remains in effect until 10 a.m. Saturday.
California wasn't the only state getting hammered by severe weather on Friday. At least five people were killed by falling trees across the Northeast U.S. as a "bomb cyclone" once again battered the region, CNN reported.
And in Europe, 21 people were dead amid a week of frigid temperatures and heavy snow, the network reported.