Reno, NV, Dec. 3, 2001 (AP by Martin Griffith)--The latest in a series of potent storms brought more heavy snow and high wind to the Sierra Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area, shutting down schools, highways and even ski resorts. The storm dumped up to 3 1/2 feet of snow in the mountain range during the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. About 40 miles of U.S. 50 was closed Monday over California's Echo Summit, between Meyers and Pollock Pines, Calif. Chains or snow tires were required on all other highways in the Sierra and on U.S. 395 north and south of Reno. Schools were closed in some areas of Nevada east of Lake Tahoe. As the storm moved eastward, driving was discouraged in much or northeastern Nevada on Monday because of blizzard conditions. At the height the storm on Sunday, Interstate 80 was closed over Donner Summit in the Sierra because of whiteout conditions, said California Highway Patrol dispatcher Sylvia McKinney. The highway reopened late Sunday. Wind gusts of up to 100 mph over the Sierra crest shut down operations Sunday at most Tahoe ski resorts. ``It's blowing really hard and snowing like crazy and visibility is really, really bad,'' John Booth, vice president of Boreal ski area, said Sunday from the resort atop Donner Summit. At lower elevations west of the Sierra, the storm had pummeled the San Francisco area with rain and wind, causing some highway flooding and mudslides. Some 1,500 customers were without power Monday in the San Francisco Bay area, down from about 13,000 late Sunday, according to Pacific Gas and Electric. After a slow start to the Sierra ski season because of a lack of snow, the storms over the last week had brightened the outlook for resorts. ``We're set for Christmas now,'' Booth said. ``We have put away our snowmaking equipment for the season. It's looking like a real winter now. There are four- to five-feet-high snowbanks along the highway.'' The snow also was good news for the region's water outlook after recent subpar winter snowpacks in the Sierra. ``We definitely need it,'' said weather service forecaster Stephen Adams in Reno. ``One or two storms won't solve the situation, but they do put us on the right track.'' source: