Wild Weather: Officials Recover Body of Missing Snowboarder

Rain, snow wreak havoc along the West Coast.

December 30, 2010, 3:01 AM

Dec. 30, 2010— -- As West Coast residents mopped up today from another round of extreme weather, officials in California announced the death of a snowboarder who had been missing for three days.

The body of Shawnte Marie Willis, 25, was found today at a Lake Tahoe-area resort after wind and snow hampered the National Guard's search.

"It's very unfortunate we have a very sad ending here," said Capt. Jeffrey Ausnow of the Placer County Sheriff's Department.

It appeared that Willis, an accomplished skier and athlete, crashed while snowboarding.

Ski resorts across the West have reported extreme winds. At Mammoth Ski Resort, also in California, gusts clocked in at 105 miles per hour.

All along the West Coast, from Washington to Arizona, blinding heavy snow has turned travel on highways into a treacherous journey.

Near Fargo, N.D., icy roads caused a massive, 100-car pileup, though no one was injured.

Driving in New Mexico was hazardous, with the weather causing sliding, spinouts and other accidents.

Outside the Grand Canyon, all lanes of Interstate 17 were shut down overnight, stranding drivers in a traffic nightmare.

"We knew the weather was going to be bad, but we didn't think it was going to be that bad," one stranded driver said.

Southern California residents still are recovering from last week's storm that brought nearly a year's worth of rain in a week. One hundred twenty homes in the San Joaquin valley were evacuated today after a local canal flooded.

Cold wind gusts of more than 40 miles per hour slammed into Los Angeles County Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

Motorists faced downed trees and rolling tumbleweeds resulting from strong winds on Southern California highways and a mudslide closed parts of the 91 freeway at the Riverside County border, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Officials Warn More Mudslides Could Be on the Way

Local engineers are warning communities of the threat of more mudslides and flooding.

In the San Bernardino County town of Highland, homes already were buried in mud from last week's storms.

Authorities have been working non-stop to prevent more injuries and property damages.

"The idea was to sandbag to keep flowing water today from entering homes ... trying to keep them from being double victims," Cal Fire spokesman Bill Peters said.

Several mountain roads were shut down after storm-related accidents snarled traffic.

Officials closed parts of Highway 330 after sections of roadway collapsed.

"The roads are inundated no matter which way you come up to the mountains right now," Caltrans spokeswoman Terri Kasinga told ABC News Los Angeles station KABC. "We have snow, we have tourists coming up, we've got some closures going on, so if you're coming up to the mountain, bring your chains, bring extra supplies, water, blankets and patience."

In Northern California, an oak tree crashed into Gayle Falgoust's camping tent, officials said.

She was killed, but her seven-year-old granddaughter next to her survived.

"It was so stormy and windy. It was just a very cruel winter day," Safari West spokeswoman Aphrodite Caserta told the Associated Press.

As a result of the storms, California's acting governor, Abel Maldonado, sent a letter to President Obama requesting a disaster declaration for the state.

While the rain and snow has moved on in California, cold temperatures and strong winds remain in the storm's wake.

Snowy Weather Blamed for Plane Overshooting Runway

Officials in Jackson Hole, Wyo., blame the snowy weather for causing an American Airlines flight coming in from Chicago to overshoot the runway and dive into hard packed snow.

There were 181 passengers and crew on board. No injuries were reported.

American Airlines Spokesman Ed Martelle told the Associated Press that Flight 2253 "had a long rollout" after it landed.

"It happened so quickly, most people didn't react until it was over," passenger Kevin Huelsmann told the AP.

ABC News' Mike Von Fremd, Gerard McNiff and the Associated Press contributed to this report.