TAHOE CITY, Calif. (KOVR-TV) – It’s an incredible sea of white in Tahoe City. The Heller family went to bed in their cabin, but they woke up in a snow cave. Their house was completely covered in fresh powder. It would take them hours to shovel their way to the surface.

“We still have more to do,” said Mary Heller. “You know you get a little bit excited when you see something different, but I was nervous too. I felt a little claustrophobic and it made me worried about the heating vents possibly being clogged and I knew that I just wanted to start shoveling.”

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Still up to her neck in snow, Mary and her family have already spent more than a day digging out of the snow. They come up to their cabin in Tahoe City every year, but this year they got quite a surprise. “We woke up in the morning, it was a complete cave. Every single window was just completely covered with snow,” said Mary.

“To be honest, I was a bit worried that we wouldn’t be able to open the door because the snow would just fall in. But it was a little bit lower than the door, so it was kind of cool.  It felt like we were just closed in like in a little snow cave,” said her daughter, Kit.

Kit and her brother went to work, shoveling for hours at a time. But what felt like progress, kept getting covered up as more snow continued to fall Thursday night. “It took me 45 minutes to shovel out the car and then I tried to do the deck but it looks like I barely did anything because it just got covered up again, so that’s frustrating,” said Kit. “It’s not very tiring at the time, but like I woke up this morning and my forearms are sore.”

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Shoveling for hours until they could climb out, Mary said she then had to ski through the streets to the store to get more food.

“It was beautiful. Turned it into a good day,” said Mary.

They’ve spent winters in Tahoe City for more than three decades, but said they’ve never seen snow pile up like this before.

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“We’ve been coming up here for 35 years and there was a blizzard warning and I was saying to my kids I’ve never heard them refer to it as a blizzard warning in Tahoe before. So that was my little clue, like wow we might be in for something,” said Mary.