Snow, rain and gusts to 73 mph smacked the West Wednesday as powerful winds blew into the Northeast on the first day of winter after crushing a worker to death under a wall in Indianapolis.

Mild weather prevailed in the East a day after high-temperature rec-ords were set in six Midwestern and Eastern cities.Up to a foot of snow had already blanketed passes in the Lake Tahoe area by late Tuesday evening, and 8 inches had fallen at Echo Summit and Donner Summit in California's Sierra Nevada. Up to 3 feet of snow was predicted in Utah's mountains.

Winter storm warnings or snow advisories were in effect Wednesday in mountain regions of California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, Colorado and in western Idaho.

The cold front producing the snow was preceded by high winds that hit 73 mph in Nevada. Gale warnings were in effect for the coasts of Oregon and Northern California.

Heavy rain deluged part of the Southern California coast Tuesday evening, causing flooding in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. Oceano in San Luis Obispo County got nearly 11/2 inches of rain in two hours.

Rain showers fell Wednesday from western New York state to eastern Texas.

In the Northeast, high winds prompted gale warnings for lakes Erie and Ontario and for the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire, and a high wind warning in western New York state.

On Tuesday, winds gusting to 50 mph apparently toppled a 25-foot-high concrete-block wall at an Indianapolis construction site, crushing worker Merl Sedam, 30, to death, authorities said.

Mild weather prevailed in the East early Wednesday. Temperatures were in the 50s in the upper Ohio Valley and mostly in the 60s from south central Texas to the lower Mississippi Valley.

Record highs for the date were set Tuesday in six cities, including Detroit, where a temperature of 57 degrees snapped the 56-degree record set in 1895, and Baltimore, where the reading at Baltimore-Washington Airport was a balmy 65, 3 degrees higher than the mark set in 1956. Rec-ords were also set in Alpena and Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.; Atlantic City, N.J.; and Scranton, Pa. The nation's high was 85 degrees in McAllen, Texas.

Wednesday's forecast called for rain from the Tennessee Valley to the Ohio Valley and Pennsylvania, with thunderstorms possible in the lower Missippi and Tennessee valleys, in much of California and along the Oregon and Washington state coasts; scattered rain showers from southeast Texas to the Gulf Coast states, the southern Appalachians, eastern sections of the mid-Atlantic Coast states, sections of New York state and southern New England; and snow in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho and parts of the Rockies.

High temperatures were forecast in the 20s and 30s from Michigan to the upper Mississippi Valley, the Dakotas, the northern and central Rockies and much of the rest of the West; the 60s and 70s from the mid- and south Atlantic Coast states to the Gulf Coast states and the southern Plains; the 60s in the desert Southwest; and the 40s and 50s elsewhere.