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Northern California beaches dusted with snow in latest storm

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The latest in a series of storms dusted Northern California beaches with snow and caused whiteout conditions on mountain roads, closing a major highway.

A stretch of Interstate 80, a key route through the Sierra Nevada to Lake Tahoe, was closed Saturday because of heavy snow and strong winds. Officials hoped to reopen it later Sunday.

The National Weather Service office in Eureka reported rare accumulating snow at sea level. A photo posted by meteorologist Eric McCormick of KIEM-TV showed Clam Beach in Arcata covered in fresh powder.

The last time Humboldt County beaches saw snow was during the winter of 2002-03, said Brad Charboneau, a meteorologist with the weather service.

'It's pretty unusual to reach the ground and accumulate,' he said.

Snow has stuck on the ground at sea level 28 times in the past 130 years, according to historical records cited by the San Francisco Chronicle. It has fallen and not accumulated an additional 19 times.

The system in the north was dissipating by midday.

Meanwhile scattered showers and snow at elevations as low as 3,500 feet were predicted for Southern California. Motorists were urged to use caution on mountain passes.

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