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Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks closed by whiteout conditions


Hail falls outside the Visalia Times-Delta office in downtown Visalia on Friday, February 15, 2019.
Calley Cederlof,

VISALIA, Calif. – A heavy snowstorm in Central California forced officials to close Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks Friday due to “whiteout conditions.”

Generals Highway is closed from Hospital Rock – near Sequoia National Park’s southern entrance – to Giant Forest. Access to many of the parks’ amenities, including Lodgepole and Wuksachi Lodge is not possible.

That means those with President’s Day weekend reservations will likely have to reschedule.

The closure comes after a winter storm dumped an estimated 15 inches of snow at the parks Friday, creating poor visibility and “dangerous weather conditions,” according to National Parks Service officials.

An estimated 5 to 9 inches is excepted to fall overnight. 

Heavy snow was also falling in California’s Sierra Nevada. National Weather Service forecasters said Friday the storm could dump between 3 and 6 feet of fresh snow in a region where some ski resorts reported getting 3 feet of snow since Thursday morning.

Kevin Cooper, marketing director for Lake Tahoe TV, says it has snowed so much in recent weeks that cities are running out of places to put the snow.

Officials are urging people to avoid traveling and have issued an avalanche warning for the greater Lake Tahoe Area.

A California Highway Patrol officer posted a video on Facebook showing whiteout conditions on Interstate 80 at Donner Summit. The highway connecting California to Nevada has been closed.

Elsewhere, authorities said they have discovered a body in a Southern California area that was swept by floodwaters from a fierce storm.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise reported that the man’s body was found on Friday near a crossroads in the rural community of Sage, southeast of Los Angeles.

Three cars were washed off a road in the area Thursday. Two vehicles were found, and rescuers began hunting for the third one.

They didn’t find it. But the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department says the body was found about 1½ miles from where the other two vehicles were discovered.

At least two other deaths are reported from the storm that pounded the state Thursday.

Contributing: The Associated Press

More: 120 snowbound visitors at California mountain resort freed by rangers


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