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Sierra Nevada braces for up to 12 feet of snow from "potent" California blizzard

A fast-moving storm drops several inches of fresh snow along Hwy 50 near Echo Summit on February 8, 2024, in South Lake Tahoe, California.

A fast-moving storm drops several inches of fresh snow near Echo Summit in South Lake Tahoe, California, on Feb. 8. Photo: George Rose/Getty Images

A "potentially life-threatening," historic blizzard has begun to slam the Sierra Nevada with up to 12 feet of snow β€”Β making mountain travel "extremely dangerous to impossible" from Thursday into the weekend, the National Weather Service warns.

The big picture: This "extremely potent" winter storm also threatens the higher terrain of Washington and Oregon going into Friday and Saturday, per an NWS forecast discussion that noted impacts would include three-inch-per-hour snowfall and coastal rain, and gusty winds.