Snowpack in Sierra Nevadas Goes From Strained to Booming Following Wild Weekend Weather

Freezing temperatures and snowstorms blanketed much of the Pacific Northwest and parts of California and Nevada over the weekend, as the Sierra Nevada snowpack went from dangerously low levels of snow following weeks of dry weather to well above average amounts of snow, California's Department of Water Resources reported Monday.

The change in the Sierras, ballooning the snow levels to between 145 and 161 percent of the normal amount of snow for this time of year, illustrates the trend that swept much of the region over the weekend.

The Central Sierra Snow Laboratory of University of California, Berkeley tweeted Monday that it measured nearly 39 inches of snow at its station in Donner Pass, California, over the past 24 hours, amounting to 193.7 inches for December, easily surpassing the previous record of 179 inches set in 1970 with several days left to go in the month.

Areas of Seattle received up to 6 inches of snow on Sunday as emergency warming shelters were opened throughout Washington and Oregon amid dropping temperatures in a blast of arctic weather from the Gulf of Alaska that meteorologists said would likely last several days.

Northstar California Resort in Truckee, California, announced Monday in a Facebook post that after receiving over 6 feet of snow in the past 48 hours, its mountain ski operations would be closed Monday.

Winter Weather, Snow, Cold, Pacific Northwest, California
Snow has blanketed much of the Pacific Northwest following a weekend of freezing temperatures and snowstorms. Above, a snow plow travels down a street in Tenino, Washington, on Sunday, December 26. Steve Bloom/The Olympian via AP

Search and rescue crews are looking for a missing skier who was last seen Saturday morning on a lift at the ski resort in Truckee, KCRA reported.

More than a foot of snow (0.3 meters) was reported near Port Angeles, Washington, on Puget Sound along the state's Olympic Peninsula. Portland, Oregon, also received snowfall. Frigid temperatures in the region could tie or break records in the coming days.

In Nevada, freezing air and blinding snow blasted across the northern part of the state on Monday, affecting travel and business, closing Sierra Nevada highway passes, delaying airport flights and shutting state offices.

Interstate 80 remained closed due to poor visibility and heavy snow from the Nevada state line to Placer County, California.

Several flights were canceled or delayed at Nevada's Reno-Tahoe International Airport and at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, where skies were clear but nearby mountains were capped by snow.

Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered nonessential state workers other than public safety and corrections personnel to remain at home due to the storm.

Weather and travel advisories stretched to northeast Nevada and the town of Elko due to the possibility of blowing and drifting snow.

Temperatures were unseasonably warm in parts of the Southern Plains, including in Arkansas, where several cities broke records on Christmas Day for daily high temperatures.

But forecasters warned that severe storms were possible midweek when a storm system moves through the Deep South, with Alabama and Mississippi at greatest risk for bad weather, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Winter Weather, Snow, Cold, Pacific Northwest, California
A bout of low temperatures and precipitation hit the Sierras and much of the Pacific Northwest over the weekend, leading to above-average amounts of snow. Above, a photographer takes pictures of the Merced River after a major Pacific storm dumped a foot of snow in the Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California, on December 16. George Rose/Getty Images