Heavy snow and rain fell across Northern California on Thursday as a substantial spring storm added to late-season precipitation totals after a dry winter.
Winter storm warnings were in effect from the Oregon border and down through the southern Cascades and the northern Sierra Nevada. An avalanche warning was issued for the central Sierra, including the Lake Tahoe area.
Schools were closed on Tahoe’s north shore at Incline Village, Nevada.
Chain controls were put into effect for vehicles on major Sierra highways and an 80-mile (128-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 80 was closed to trucks due to slippery conditions from the California-Nevada line west of Reno to Applegate, California.
“Well it got nasty, and got nasty fast!!!” said a tweet by the California Highway Patrol office at Truckee on Interstate 80 north of Lake Tahoe.
Motorists were urged to bring warm clothing, food and water.
“You never know when you could get stuck in snow or long travel delays occur,” the Sacramento office of the National Weather Service wrote.
An afternoon storm south of Sacramento brought significant hail to the area, as well as a tornado warning for parts of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Calaveras and Amador counties. No damage was immediately reported and the Los Angeles Times wrote that forecasters had not confirmed whether a tornado touched down.
Rain was expected to spread down the state into Southern California during the day, forecasters said. Snowfall there were expected to remain at high elevations but could not be ruled out on the Grapevine section of vital Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and the San Joaquin Valley.
Winter was a no-show from January through March in California. Thursday’s update by the U.S. Drought Monitor showed wide swaths of the state in extreme or severe drought, but the report noted recent weeks of beneficial moisture.