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Avalanche Danger Shuts Down Sierra Ski Resorts

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Rapidly falling snow and three small avalanches forced the closure Thursday of the Alpine Meadows and also sections of the famed Squaw Valley ski resort.

According to the Alpine Meadow blog, the rapid snowfall accumulation, high winds and zero visibility have resulted in "the closure of Alpine Meadows and most of Squaw Valley" for the day.

On Thursday morning, an avalanche shut down Alpine Road and buried two cars around 8 a.m. Three Alpine Meadows staff members were pulled from the cars by firefighters and did not suffer any injuries.

Two other small avalanches were also reported in the area.

The same storm front roared through the Bay Area early Thursday, awakening Bay Area residents to the rumble of thunder and toppling trees.
According to the National Weather Service, Middletown, the area that was devastated by a wildfire last year, received 1.63 inches of rain over the last 24 hours. San Anselmo had gotten 1.40 inches, Calistoga had 1.36 inches, Novato, Yountville and Dublin all nearly got an inch and San Francisco received 0.66 of an inch.

The cold, unstable air behind the storm front that moved over the region also triggered brief thundershowers, strong winds and hail.
On Oakland's Chelsea Drive, winds and possibly a lightning strike toppled a tree that crashed into a van and car. The tree also pulled down utility wires as it fell to the ground.

"They were awaken by a loud crash," said Gene Borstel, whose daughter, son-in-law and their two children live in the home where the tree was located. "They saw flashing, sparks."

Meanwhile, on state Highway 17 south of Los Gatos a massive tree toppled across the freeway, blocking all lanes at around 10:20 a.m., CHP Officer Ross Lee said.

One northbound lane and a southbound lane were reopened in about an hour. The other lanes were closed until a Caltrans crew remove the massive tree.

No injuries or property damage was reported.

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