RENO — Amtrak passenger train service between Reno and Sacramento, California, is unlikely to resume until at least Friday because of a lingering winter storm that sent an avalanche across the Union Pacific tracks in the Sierra Nevada, railway officials said Wednesday.
Service on Amtrak’s California Zephyr was suspended Tuesday after an avalanche in the mountains west of Truckee, California, where more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) of snow has fallen over the last two days, with winds gusting up to 114 mph (183 kph).
A 70-mile (112-kilometers) stretch of U.S. Interstate 80 also remained closed Wednesday from the California-Nevada line near Reno to Colfax, California. The area around Lake Tahoe was under a winter storm warning until 4 a.m. Thursday.
Two Amtrak trains together carrying nearly 300 passengers stopped and backed down the mountain in both directions on Tuesday and early Wednesday following the avalanche near Donner Pass just south of where I-80 tops the Sierra.
The pass is named after the infamous Donner Party that became stranded nearby and resorted to cannibalism in the 1840s. Amtrak housed passengers free of charge at Reno hotels Tuesday night and planned to do the same Wednesday.
Earlier this week in Oregon almost 200 people were trapped on an Amtrak train that was halted after it hit downed trees during a blizzard.