A winter storm with hurricane-force winds left much of the mountainous West buried under drifts of snow yesterday, and forecasters warned that Mother Nature was winding up for a second pitch.

The weather in Europe was worse. Great Britain and northern Europe were suffering through their second major storm of the season as high winds and drifting snow forced London to close Gatwick Airport and made roads treacherous across the continent.

A Polish freighter with 25 sailors aboard sank early yesterday in the North Sea. One person was rescued. Nine bodies were recovered before authorities called off rescue operations in a blinding snowstorm.

In California's Sierra Nevada Mountains, the storm dumped as much as four feet of snow in some areas Friday night, closing roads and prompting avalanche warnings.

In Squaw Valley, Calif., Placer County sheriff's deputies went door-to-door Friday, urging residents to evacuate homes in avalanche-prone areas.

The National Weather Service in San Francisco said another wintry blast is likely to hit Monday.

Winter storm warnings were in effect in Utah, where winds gusting up to 100 miles an hour drove 15 inches of snow into road-plugging drifts Friday night. The weather service yesterday was predicting 10 to 18 inches of new snow.

Elsewhere, southern California was awash in its heaviest rainfall since July, a 2 1/2-inch downpour that contributed to scores of accidents.