Flood Watch
from FRI 11:00 AM MST until SAT 11:00 PM MST, Yavapai County Mountains, Little Colorado River Valley in Coconino County, Little Colorado River Valley in Navajo County, Little Colorado River Valley in Apache County, Eastern Mogollon Rim, White Mountains, Northern Gila County, Yavapai County Valleys and Basins, Oak Creek and Sycamore Canyons, Western Pima County including Ajo/Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Tohono O'odham Nation including Sells, Upper Santa Cruz River and Altar Valleys including Nogales, Tucson Metro Area including Tucson/Green Valley/Marana/Vail, South Central Pinal County including Eloy/Picacho Peak State Park, Southeast Pinal County including Kearny/Mammoth/Oracle, Upper San Pedro River Valley including Sierra Vista/Benson, Eastern Cochise County below 5000 ft including Douglas/Wilcox, Upper Gila River and Aravaipa Valleys including Clifton/Safford, White Mountains of Graham and Greenlee Counties including Hannagan Meadow, Galiuro and Pinaleno Mountains including Mount Graham, Chiricahua Mountains including Chiricahua National Monument, Dragoon/Mule/Huachuca and Santa Rita Mountains including Bisbee/Canelo Hills/Madera Canyon, Santa Catalina and Rincon Mountains including Mount Lemmon/Summerhaven, Baboquivari Mountains including Kitt Peak, Kofa, Central La Paz, Aguila Valley, Southeast Yuma County, Gila River Valley, Northwest Valley, Tonopah Desert, Gila Bend, Buckeye/Avondale, Cave Creek/New River, Deer Valley, Central Phoenix, North Phoenix/Glendale, New River Mesa, Scottsdale/Paradise Valley, Rio Verde/Salt River, East Valley, Fountain Hills/East Mesa, South Mountain/Ahwatukee, Southeast Valley/Queen Creek, Superior, Northwest Pinal County, West Pinal County, Apache Junction/Gold Canyon, Tonto Basin, Mazatzal Mountains, Pinal/Superstition Mountains, Sonoran Desert Natl Monument, San Carlos, Dripping Springs, Globe/Miami, Southeast Gila County

Out-of-town visitors still stranded in snow-struck Sierra

With snowbanks towering more than a story high and blizzard conditions making driving difficult, there are plenty of Christmas holiday travelers who haven't been able to leave the Sierra and find their way home.

Interstate 80 had been closed since Saturday from the town of Colfax to the Nevada state line. By Tuesday night, that stretch had reopened in both directions essential commercial trucks and vehicles only.

Caltrans crews have been busy at work trying to clear off the roadways as snow keeps falling in Northern California – the snowiest December on record. As of Tuesday, the Donner Lake area had received nearly 17 feet of snow this month. PG&E outages have only made the work harder. 

"I got here yesterday, just got stuck and went through every possible route but no luck," said one man pumping gas at a station. "I just got to stick it out."

Some visitors vacationing at Lake Tahoe said there is so much snow, it's higher than the height of their cars and it's been tough digging themselves out. 

Mercie Galvin and her neighbors in Donner Lake spent Monday morning helping friends who couldn’t get home, using snow blowers and clearing walkways. 

"It's rough because when you come home to this many feet of snow, it's days and days of digging out," Galvin told Sacramento-station KCRA. 

Living in the Sierra for almost 30 years, Galvin has survived many snow storms. 

"Storms like this cause major obstacles," Galvin said. "But those of us that have been here a long time, we've got everything we need. We're prepared."

In another part of the Sierra, a Carmichael couple was stranded in South Lake Tahoe after a holiday trip.

"We came here Friday morning and were supposed to leave yesterday," Lyubov Chernychko told KCRA.

He worked with family members to help at least 20 cars that were stuck in the snow on nearby roads.

"We don't have [anything] to do inside," said Alex Chernychko. "We have to help people and they appreciate it."

Heavy snow will start winding down by Monday evening in California’s Sierra Nevada and the area is expected to get a break from the cold snap by Thursday, said Emily Heller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.