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Restrictions lifted on I-80 after Sierra snow, 137 mph wind

RENO, Nev. — Day-long travel restrictions were lifted on U.S. Interstate 80 in the Sierra late Tuesday after a winter storm packing snow and winds in excess of 130 mph (209 kph) blew through the region, but more rough weather is on the way.

The National Weather Service upgraded a winter storm watch to a warning for the Reno-Tahoe area and much of the Sierra’s eastern front Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. when a more powerful system is forecast to bring up to a foot (30 centimetres) of snow on mountain passes and 2 feet (60 cm) on ridge tops.

Less than a half-foot (15 cm) of snow was recorded at most Tahoe-area ski resorts Tuesday but dangerous winds battered the mountain tops and forced chain controls along about a 70-mile (110-kilometre) stretch of I-80 west of the California-Nevada line.

The National Weather Service says the strongest wind gust was 137 mph (220 kph) at Alpine Meadows near Tahoe City, California at 3:45 a.m. Tuesday.

The neighbouring Squaw Valley resort reported a gust of 124 mph (200 kph). An 85 mph (137 kph) gust was recorded at the top of Mount Rose near Reno and near Walker Lake at Hawthorne.

The Associated Press