By Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The first big storm of the winter is blanketing the greater Lake Tahoe area with snow and hail that are causing traffic headaches for holiday travelers.

The National Weather Service in Reno says Thursday’s storm was expected to dump as much as 22 inches of snow along highway passes and up to 15 inches in Truckee and the Tahoe Basin.

Forecasts had called for snow to accumulate at elevations as low as 2,000 feet.

The white Christmas Eve was welcomed by Tahoe ski resorts and the visitors already at them. But Caltrans says poor visibility required vehicles to be turned back on Interstate 80 at one point, while a hail storm stopped traffic on U.S. 50.

Elsewhere in California, the storm produced a tornado that touched down briefly in El Dorado County but did not cause any injuries.

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