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Severe California snowstorms hinder search for skier missing since Christmas

Search and rescue teams in California are looking for a skier who disappeared on Christmas Day, with officials saying rescue efforts have been hampered by record snowstorms in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Rory Angelotta.Placer County Sheriff’s Office

The man, Rory Angelotta, 43, a ski shop manager from Truckee, was reported missing Saturday when he didn’t show up for a Christmas dinner.

Angelotta’s last known whereabouts are believed to be the Northstar Ski Resort, in the Tahoe region of the Sierra Nevadas, about 130 miles east of Sacramento.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office said its search for him has been hindered by severe weather and what a University of California research center said was record snowfall at the site in the Sierra Nevadas.

The sheriff’s office said Angelotta’s ski pass was last scanned at Comstock Lift at the Northstar Ski Resort around midday Saturday and registered no activity after that.

“An emergency ping on Angelotta’s phone last showed a short call made from the Northstar area at 11:25 a.m. before his phone was turned off. Angelotta’s vehicle was also found parked in the Northstar parking lot,” the sheriff’s office wrote.

“Searchers responded and combed the mountain and surrounding areas, despite extreme weather,” the sheriff’s office wrote on Facebook.

“Rescue personnel were on skis, snowmobiles, and a snowcat during their search,” it said. “They faced high avalanche danger, strong winds, whiteout flurries, frigid temperatures, and heavy snow loads before calling off their search in the evening, on December 26th.”

The sheriff’s office said search efforts continued Monday but faced “significant challenges” because of the severe storm.

The sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Kelsey Angelotta, Angelotta’s sister, told NBC affiliate KCRA of Sacramento that her brother, who recently moved to the Lake Tahoe area, had never skied the back side of Northstar Mountain, which had just opened for the season.

“This is unfamiliar territory,” she said.

The University of California, Berkeley’s mountainside Central Sierra Snow Lab, about 15 miles west of Northstar, reported Tuesday morning that precipitation there had totaled 202.1 inches so far in December, breaking the month’s record of 193.7 inches, set in 1970. It said even more snow is forecast to fall in the next few days.

The sheriff’s office said it was assisted in its search and rescue efforts by Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, Nevada County Search and Rescue and Northstar Ski Patrol.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office asked members of the public who may have seen or spoken to Angelotta the day he disappeared or since then to contact it.



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