Transportation

Holiday traffic jam in snowy Sierra starts before noon; Highway 50 closed

Heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada has created significant avalanche danger that caused the closing of Highway 50 to traffic.
Heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada has created significant avalanche danger that caused the closing of Highway 50 to traffic. AP

Motorists who ventured into the Sierra Nevada for the three-day Presidents’ Day weekend are already finding it slow going as they tried to return home.

The California Department of Transportation announced that it was holding all traffic on Highway 50 from Twin Bridges to Myers for avalanche control. No time estimate for reopening was given.

“It’s snowing like crazy right now, and holiday traffic is extremely heavy,” Deanna Shoopman, a spokeswoman with Caltrans’ District 3, said just before noon Monday.

REAL-TIME TRAFFIC: See live conditions of Sacramento-area highways

MORE WEATHER: More rain, high winds to pound region today

The National Weather Service expects snow to continue in the high country throughout the day, with the additional complication of high winds in the Sierra Nevada late this afternoon and tonight.

The NWS said it expects heavy snow in the higher elevations.

Late this morning, Caltrans reported that it was “turning all big rigs” on westbound Interstate 80 at California-Nevada state line “due to multiple crashes” and “heavy holiday traffic.”

Shoopman said truck drivers traveling on I-80 as far east as Elko are receiving posted warnings of the situation at the state line.

Shoopman said that big rig drivers who have not stopped east of the state line are being turned back to Reno.

She said the big rig turn-back will remain in place “until we get the holiday traffic sorted out.”

Caltrans also reported late this morning that Highway 88 at the Carson Pass is closed for avalanche control. As yet, there is no estimated time for reopening the route through the Sierra Nevada.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover

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