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Sierra Storm: Teen Rescued From Roof Avalanche; Tahoe Buried By Nearly 6 Feet Of Snow

TRUCKEE (CBS SF) -- A powerful winter storm dumped several feet of snow and blasted the Lake Tahoe area with gale-force winds Thursday, triggering an extreme avalanche warning.

In the Serene Lakes Area outside of Truckee, a 14-year-old boy playing in a homemade snow cave next to his home in the Serene Lakes area, was rescued Wednesday after he was buried under a mound of snow that came crashing down from a roof.

Truckee Fire Protection District rescue crews pulled the boy out of the snow after several hours.

"Nobody witnessed the incident but when he didn't come inside after a few hours, family members looked for him, couldn't find him and called 911," said the fire district in a press statement. "The experienced first arriving firefighter/paramedics from Truckee Fire immediately suspected a roof avalanche and began probing the debris at the bottom of the roof."

Fortunately, "they got a hit with the probe, quickly started digging and recovered the boy alive about 5 feet under the snow."

There was no immediate update on the teen's condition.

The U.S. Forest Service Sierra Avalanche Center upgraded the avalanche warning Thursday morning as the rapid snow accumulation was causing dangerous instability in the snowpack.

"Intense snowfall continues in the Sierra today and tonight," the National Weather Service said. "This heavy snow along with strong blowing winds will create periods with near-zero visibility. "


Caltrans said Interstate 80 was closed in both directions between Colfax and the Nevada state line because of the snow. Other Sierra road closures were also in place and authorities warned travelers to stay off the roadways.

Caltrans temporarily blocked travel on U.S. Highway 50 Thursday afternoon over Echo Summit for avalanche control before reopening the roadway.

"Travel is not advised," the weather service said. "If you risk travel, especially over the Sierra, be prepared for possible road closures, travel delays, chain controls, and near-zero visibilities at times. Bring enough food, water, and warm clothes to last lengthy closures."

"Snowfall rates around 2-3"/hr across the Tahoe Basin will begin to ease up a few hours after sunrise and become more in the 1-2"/hr range through the afternoon while snowfall rates across the Sierra in Mono County tick upwards once again as the atmospheric river drops south," the weather service said Thursday.

Since the storm began Alpine Meadows has gotten 57 inches of snow, Sierra-at-Tahoe 50 inches, and Kirkwood 53 inches, according to the weather service.

A Winter Storm Warning was in effect for the Sierra and Tahoe basin until 4 a.m. Friday. Meanwhile, a Blizzard Warning was in effect for the Mammoth Lakes area until 4 a.m. Friday with predicted snowfall rates of up to 1-3 inches an hour.

"This is a life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel," a weather service warning said. "Road crews and first responders may not be able to rescue you. Stay indoors until the snow and wind subside. Even a short walk could be deadly if you become disoriented."

Truckee resident Cole Gardner was among those who ventured out on a snowmobile to take advantage of the deep powder at the area resorts.

"The avalanche danger is considerable right now and pretty extreme so we're going to stay in the trees in the flats and see if we can go find some powder," he said.

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