A person tries to clear snow from a road during a storm in Truckee, California on Saturday
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A HISTORIC blizzard has pummelled California with 10ft of snow and 190mph gales – leaving 20,000 Americans without power.

A handful of highways and mountain passes have been closed as the storm presents a serious danger to life.

A person tries to clear snow from a road during a storm in Truckee, California on Saturday

A person tries to clear snow from a road during a storm in Truckee, California on SaturdayCredit: AP
A couple snowshoe in downtown Truckee on Saturday

A couple snowshoe in downtown Truckee on SaturdayCredit: AP
Vehicles drive as snow falls along Interstate 80 (I-80) in the Sierra Nevada mountains  on Thursday

Vehicles drive as snow falls along Interstate 80 (I-80) in the Sierra Nevada mountains on ThursdayCredit: Getty

The blizzard is especially punishing in the Sierra Nevada region, where wind gusts have tipped 305km/h.

The storm first appeared on Thursday, while biting temperatures, snowfall and storms are expected to continue into Wednesday in some areas.

One of the worst-affected areas was the town of Truckee near Lake Tahoe in California, where homes, businesses and vehicles were buried in more than 10ft of snow.

Locals have been warned of a “high to extreme avalanche danger” there, including the greater Lake Tahoe area.

Resident Dubravka Tomasin described the blizzard as “pretty harrowing.”

NWS meteorologist William Churchill called the storm an “extreme blizzard for the Sierra Nevada, in particular, as well as other portions of Nevada and even extending into Utah and portions of western Colorado”.

Meanwhile, three to six feet of the white stuff is expected in communities on the lake’s shores and more than a foot in the valleys on the Sierra’s eastern front, including Reno, CBS News reported.

On Friday, bosses closed the Yosemite National Park, with visitors herded out of the complex before noon.

Palisades Tahoe, the largest resort on the north end of Tahoe and site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, closed all chairlifts Saturday due to snow, wind and low visibility.

Other areas closed Saturday included Sugar Bowl, Boreal and Sierra. Heavenly Mountain Resort planned to open late with limited operations.

Terrifying video shows moment snowmobilers are buried alive by 300ft of snow in blistering avalanche

Forecasters have urged people not to travel, warning that it would take a long time to rescue them if they are blanketed by snow.

What to do during a blizzard

One of the most important blizzard safety tips during the storm is to stay inside as much as possible, WebMD advises.

If you do have to go outside, dress in several thin layers of clothes and not just one bulky layer. Cover up exposed skin with mittens, hats, and scarves, especially waterproof items. While you’re outside, be mindful of signs of frostbite and hypothermia.

While you’re in your home, make sure to heat and light the home safely. Read all instructions for space heaters and backup generators and make sure that they’re a safe distance away from items like curtains and blankets to avoid a fire hazard. Note that some gas-powered heaters may require ventilation.

Babies and older people may need some extra care during a blizzard when extreme cold is a factor. Babies and older adults lose body heat much quicker than the average adult and are at higher risk for weather-related dangers. Try to maintain a warm temperature within your house and have extra blankets on hand.

Other ski resorts around Lake Tahoe provisionally closed their doors on Friday and Sunday but had hoped to reopen today.

“It’s snowing pretty hard out there, really windy, and power is out to about half the town,” Thomas Petkanas, a bartender at Alibi Ale Works in Incline Village, near Lake Tahoe, told the Associated Press news agency by phone.

“We’re one of the few spots open today,” he added.

A tornado Friday afternoon in Madera County rocked an elementary school, said Andy Bollenbacher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hanford.

Jake Coleman digs out his car along North Lake Boulevard as snow continues to fall in Tahoe City on Saturday,

Jake Coleman digs out his car along North Lake Boulevard as snow continues to fall in Tahoe City on Saturday,Credit: AP
A man clears his driveway along Highway 89 outside Tahoe City on Saturday

A man clears his driveway along Highway 89 outside Tahoe City on SaturdayCredit: AP
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