California avalanches claim two lives

The flag at Alpine Meadows hangs at half mast this week for patroller Bill Foster. Michelson

In-bounds avalanches at ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe region of Northern California claimed two lives Monday. According to Associated Press reports, Steven Mark Anderson, 49, of Hirchsdale, Calif., was reported missing by friends approximately three hours after a slide occurred at Donner Ski Ranch on Monday morning. His body was recovered by rescue teams at the base of the avalanche inside the ski area's main boundaries.

A separate slide at Alpine Meadows, a nearby resort, buried ski patrol veteran Bill Foster, 53, as he was doing avalanche control work in a closed area on the backside of the mountain called Sherwood Bowl. The 28-year ski patrol veteran was uncovered after eight minutes and given CPR but later died of injuries at the Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev.

Winter storms dumped more than 3 feet of snow over the weekend in the Lake Tahoe region. The heavy snowfall combined with high winds and a weak, failing snow layer buried deep in the snowpack have contributed to avalanches across the Lake Tahoe region.

Eyewitnesses at Alpine Meadows reported an in-bounds slide, with no casualties, on Monday near the resort's Scott chair, which was immediately closed. On Sunday, two skiers were swept in a human-triggered avalanche in bounds on the KT-22 peak at Squaw Valley resort. Both were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released, although neither had been buried by the slide.

Another storm is headed toward the region, with forecasts calling for an additional 1 to 2 feet to fall by Thursday morning. According to the avalanche advisory posted on the Sierra Avalanche Center website Monday, "avalanche danger exists on all aspects on slopes steeper than 33 degrees due to wind slabs and heavy snow loads sitting on a weak snowpack. Large, destructive human triggered avalanches remain likely."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.