(Bloomberg) -- A dangerous storm made its way to California’s winter resort region Friday, bringing “life-threatening” conditions and a potential to dump more than 12 feet (3.7 meters) of snow.

A blizzard warning is in effect through Sunday for Northern California, including the Lake Tahoe resort area in the Sierra Nevada, where wind and blowing snow are making travel treacherous, the National Weather Service said. 

“They will get pretty slammed,” said Jennifer Tate, a forecaster at the US Weather Prediction Center. “We have snow totals in the multiple feet for the highest peaks of the Sierra.”

The storm is coming in colder than several past systems so it will bring a lot more snow over a larger region, Tate said. Mountain travel will be nearly impossible with hurricane-strength gusts potentially triggering power outages, the weather service warned. High winds and heavy snow are forecast to spread across eight western states as far as Colorado. 

“The three-day snow totals are huge,” said Bob Oravec, a senior branch forecaster at the weather prediction enter. “There are going to be tremendous amounts of snow in the Sierra, as well as inland in the Wasatch and Rockies.”

Heavy snow can cause deadly avalanches in the Sierra mountains. In January, one person was killed and three were injured by an avalanche at the Palisades Tahoe ski resort near Lake Tahoe. 

The storm was expected to travel to Southern California, bringing 1 to 3 inches of rainfall to a region that recently faced flood warnings and threats of mudslides.  

While it is dangerous to travelers and residents, deep snow is vital for California’s water needs. The snow pack acts as a frozen reservoir that melts in late spring and early summer, bringing water to the lowlands. In a month, California will take its seasonal measure of how much snow and water it got through the winter as part of managing its system. 

The California Department of Water Resources said Friday the state’s snow pack remains below average despite a series of winter storms. It is about 30% less than the usual April 1 average, which is when officials decide how much water California likely will have through summer.

--With assistance from Cedric Sam.

(Updates with additional context in the seventh and final paragraphs.)

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