Snow sidelines much of Nevada County (VIDEO) | TheUnion.com

Snow sidelines much of Nevada County (VIDEO)

After several false alarms the last couple weeks, much of Nevada County woke up Monday morning to find a blanket of snow on the ground.

Most school districts closed for a snow day, although those at lower elevations, such as Penn Valley Union Elementary School District, stayed open for business.

The Pleasant Ridge School District, which encompasses Alta Sierra and Cottage Hill elementary and Magnolia intermediate schools, opened and then closed an hour later due to the worsening weather. According to the district, students were brought to the schools from the buses and parents were informed students needed to be picked back up as soon as possible.

Nevada County closed its government offices, although the courthouse remained open.

Multiple spinouts and collisions were reported during the morning commute from Highway 20 above Nevada City all the way down Highway 49. No serious injuries were reported by the California Highway Patrol, however.

The evening commute was shaping up to be a mess at higher elevations. By 5 p.m., eastbound traffic on Interstate 80 was being held at Kingvale due to spin-outs on the summit.

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Amounts of snowfall varied widely, with as much as a foot falling at higher elevations.

In the lakeside community of Cascade Shores, many of the roads remained unplowed into the early afternoon, with about 8 inches falling by noon.

The Cascade Shores General Store was doing a brisk business, although its cafe was closed. One intrepid soul made it to the store on his tractor, grabbing groceries so that he wouldn't have to brave the hilly road into Nevada City.

"It's been a constant stream, people coming in for beer and for food," said Patches Murphy, as she worked the register in the store.

According to Murphy, more than a few visitors came from out of the area.

"About eight kids in trucks pulled up," she said. "They were spinning around (in the parking lot), they had snowball fights — they had a field day."

Murphy admitted this was her first big snow since she moved here from Southern California two years ago.

"I'm excited," she said.

No warming shelter until Wednesday

Despite calls from some concerned citizens, no warming shelter was set to open Monday night.

According to a memorandum of understanding between Sierra Roots and Nevada City, the temperature must fall below 30 degrees — or 34 degrees with either snow on the ground or one inch of rain in a 24-hour period — in order for city buildings to be used for a warming shelter.

Sierra Roots President Janice O'Brien said she was caught off guard by the storm and had not been able to reach anyone at the city or county until it was too late.

Nevada City was able to offer its Veterans Hall for one night only, but O'Brien said the logistics would have been too difficult.

Similarly, an offer by Nevada County of volunteer assistance for Monday night was turned down. O'Brien said Sierra Roots would feel legally responsible if anything happened such as an altercation.

"We had to say no," she said. "We have a very structured program."

O'Brien hopes to debrief with the city and county so that better planning can take place.

The shelter at the Nevada City Seamans Lodge will be open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The lodge in Pioneer Park will open at 4:30 p.m. each of those days, according to the Sierra Roots website.

Moving forward

Today is predicted to be clear, but a second storm is forecast to move into the area Wednesday.

Today will be sunny with a high near 50 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Rain, possibly mixed with snow, is expected Wednesday, mainly after 4 p.m. More rain is predicted for Thursday, heavy at times, with a high near 42 degrees.

It will turn colder Thursday night with possible snow showers, the weather service said. Nevada County could see those snow showers continued into Saturday.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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