SACRAMENTO, Calif. – An unrelenting storm brought more rain and snow to Southern California on Friday, while residents in the Sierra Nevada (search) dug out from as much as 8 feet of snow.
More wet weather was expected through the New Year's weekend for most of the state, giving skiers mountains of fresh snow — but dangerous driving conditions to get there.
Storms this week have battered California, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. Three to 4 feet of snow have already fallen on Nevada mountains and as much as a foot of snow came down in the mountains of Colorado. At least nine people have died.
In Southern California, the National Weather Service (search) posted winter storm warnings and flood advisories through Friday evening.
Heavy rain pounded Santa Barbara (search), Ventura and Los Angeles counties, with up to an inch of rain an hour falling in western Los Angeles County by midmorning. Los Angeles had almost 1.2 inches by midmorning, giving it more than 8 inches for the week.
Snow was falling over the Tejon Pass on Interstate 5, the main artery linking Los Angeles to the Central Valley and Northern California.
In the Sierra, up to 8 feet of snow had fallen since Thursday, temporarily shutting down the main highways to Lake Tahoe-area ski resorts and snarling holiday traffic. An avalanche warning was posted for backcountry ski areas from Yuba Pass to Sonora Pass.
The snowfall was Reno, Nev.'s heaviest in more than a decade; snow forced the airport to shut down Thursday night for only the second time in 40 years, a spokesman said.
A break in the storm allowed Interstate 80 and U.S. 50 to reopen Friday after being closed off and on for more than a day; the highways connect Sacramento, Calif., to the Reno-Tahoe area.
Another band of storms was forecast Saturday in Northern California and remain into Sunday, said weather service meteorologist Daniel Harty.
Five people have died in the storms in California since Monday. In Arizona, searchers recovered two bodies believed to be those of college students who had vanished when their canoe capsized.
Two nationally known wildlife experts, Tom Thorne and Beth Williams, of Albany County, Wyo., died Wednesday when their pickup hit a jackknifed trailer on U.S. 287 in northern Colorado. The husband-and-wife veterinarians were experts on brucellosis and chronic wasting disease.