- Associated Press - Thursday, January 5, 2017

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The Latest on the winter storm that dumped heavy snow in the Sierra (all times local PST):

3:30 p.m.

Rescue crews in the Sierra Nevada say two backcountry skiers caught in an avalanche escaped injury in the snow slide that closed the state highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe.

Washoe County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff McCaskill says the back-country skiers - a man and a woman - ended up walking off the mountain on their own after rescue crews responded about 12:20 p.m. Thursday along the Mount Rose Highway west of the Mount Rose ski resort.

North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District spokeswoman Tia Rancourt says the skiers already were out of harm’s way when paramedics arrived, conducted a medical evaluation and released them. No one else was hurt.

Nevada Department of Transportation spokeswoman Meg Ragonese says the avalanche passed through a few vehicles traveling on the highway west of the summit near an area popular for sledding and cross-country skiing about 30 miles southwest of Reno.

She says at least two vehicles ended up getting stuck in several feet of snow, but NDOT snowplows were able to free them.

Ragonese says the highway would remain closed for an indefinite period Thursday while crews attempt to trigger some man-made avalanches in an effort to reduce the threat of future snow slides.

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1:25 p.m.

An avalanche has closed the state highway between Reno and Lake Tahoe, and authorities are trying to determine whether anyone was trapped by it.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Gordon said several cars were buried by the avalanche just after noon Thursday west of the summit of Mount Rose near the Mount Rose ski resort.

Gordon says one person may have been trapped but he’s been unable to confirm that. He says crews are searching the area and have closed off a section of the Mount Rose Highway that’s currently covered in several feet of snow about 30 miles southwest of Reno.

Blizzard conditions forced the closure of the highway most of Wednesday. A small avalanche briefly trapped three vehicles on an access road at the ski resort then, but no one was hurt.

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12:05 p.m.

The winter storm that dumped several feet of snow at ski resorts around Lake Tahoe is raising flood concerns along the Sierra’s eastern front, including Reno, Sparks and the Carson City area.

The National Weather Service says more than 6 feet of snow has fallen in the upper elevations of the Sierra since Sunday, including about 2 feet in the last two days.

The California Highway Patrol has reopened a 50-mile stretch of U.S. Interstate 80 that was closed Wednesday night in blizzard conditions over Donner Pass west of Truckee, California. But chains or snow tires remained mandatory Thursday on all the Sierra passes stretching from south of Carson City to north of Reno.

The weather service issued a flash flood watch effective Saturday night through Monday morning throughout the region as another storm system moves in with warmer temperatures. As much as 4 inches of rain is forecast in Reno this weekend, with 6 to 12 inches in the Tahoe basin.

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9:20 a.m.

Winter weather around the Reno and Lake Tahoe areas sent drivers sliding off roads Thursday morning and forced school officials to cancel classes.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Gordon told The Reno Gazette-Journal that cars were sliding off roads throughout the area, with the roughest conditions along Interstate 80 north of Reno.

KTVN-TV reports chains were required for cars on mountain highways in the area.

The Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District and Diocese of Reno Catholic schools canceled school while other schools delayed the start of classes by several hours.

The National Weather Service in Reno reported Thursday that 3 to 5 inches of snow had fallen in the Reno area over the past 24 hours while 8 inches were reported east in Fernley.

A number of Tahoe-area ski resorts received about 2 feet of snow or more.

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