updated 3/21/2006 1:14:55 PM ET 2006-03-21T18:14:55

Normally at this time of year, Don Hotaling, the owner of Tahoe Bike and Ski at Kings Beach, on Lake Tahoe's north shore, is changing his inventory from ski to bike.

But not this year.

"I've been selling a lot of goggles because it's been snowing almost every day of March," Hotaling said. He's also sold hand warmers, toe warmers, neck fleeces and face masks. Hotaling said he's been getting out-of-town customers buying more ski gear because stores in California already have packed up their supplies.

"It's fine if it snows because people will be thinking about skiing," Hotaling said. "I think the snowpack is heavy. It's going to be a while for off-road biking."

A winter storm that ignored the calendar swept over the Sierra on the first day of spring, then swept across northern Nevada, leaving a few inches of fresh powder at the ski resorts and enough snow to bring out road controls from west to east.

Chains were required on both Interstate 80 and U.S. 50 in California early Tuesday and chains or snows were the order of the day on most highways from Reno to Elko until temperatures warmed.

"It is unusual to see it go on and on for weeks like this," said meteorologist Jim Wallmann of the National Weather Service in Reno.

Serial storms over the last three weeks have kept Reno cloudy and gray, dumping feet of snow at the higher elevations and raising the snowpack. On Monday, the Lake Tahoe basin had 20 percent more snow than normal, and the Walker River Basin 40 percent more than normal, Wallmann said.

In the Reno-Sparks area, the snow came at the start of the evening commute, stalling traffic and contributing to about two dozen spinouts and accidents on I-80 and in the valleys. Nobody was injured seriously.

"People are thinking it's springtime and not driving properly," said Nevada Highway Patrol Sgt. Ron Larson.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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