Winter Storms Expected to Impact Sierra Motorists
Forecast for series of winter storms to bring snow to lower elevations
MARYSVILLE – Caltrans District 3 is alerting motorists to be prepared for winter driving conditions as a series of storms start to line up to impact the Northern California area.
The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Winter Storm Warning for the first storm expected to arrive mid-day Thursday and continue through Friday. Up to two feet of snow is expected above 5,000 feet on the Interstate 80 corridor and over a foot is expected on the Echo Summit – U.S. Highway 50 corridor. The storm’s cold front could lower snow levels to 2,500-3,000 feet Friday morning. A return to dry, cold weather is forecast with below freezing overnight temperatures through Sunday and Monday when another, weaker storm is expected to bring more snow accumulations to the Sierra passes. A mid-week storm is also on the horizon.
ChainControlStopI80WBThese winter storms will result in winter driving conditions for much the foothill and mountain areas. High winds are also forecast, which may result in low visibility from white-out conditions and greater wind chill factors.
Chain controls on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit, on U.S. Highway 50 over Echo Summit and on other Sierra mountain roadways should be anticipated Thursday through Friday and Sunday night into Monday. Caltrans permitted and trained chain installers on Interstate 80 can be identified by a reflective sign with their bib number.
Severe weather may slow motorists, resulting in roadway congestion. Wet and slippery roadways reduce tire traction, especially at high vehicle speeds. Hydroplaning caused by vehicle speed and rain accumulations on the roadway can result in loss of driver control. Motorists are encouraged to slow down and observe the following winter driving tips, which can also be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html:
WINTERIZE YOUR VEHICLE
· Check your tire pressure and tread depth to minimize sliding and/or hydroplaning.
· Replace the wiper blades and fill the windshield wiper fluid reservoir; be sure to use a winter formula to help de-ice windshields.
· If traveling to higher elevations, carry tire chains that are the correct size for your tires, and practice installing the chains before needing to use them.
· Have a full tank of fuel before traveling.
CARRY A TRAVEL KIT
· Have blankets, extra clothing, food and water, towels, a shovel, a flashlight, an ice scraper, a small bag of sand or kitty litter and road flares.
· Have a fully charged cell phone before leaving and carry a car charger.
· Reduce speeds during winter weather and allow for additional stopping time.
· Turn on headlights to see and be seen and turn off cruise control.
· Watch for snow removal equipment. Only pass snow removal vehicles when a safe, legal passing area is available and sight distance is good.
· Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, and shaded areas; they may freeze first.
· If your vehicle begins to skid, steer in the direction of the slide and slowly remove your foot from the accelerator.
CHECK CONDITIONS FREQUENTLY
· Check out Caltrans’ “QuickMap” for current road conditions and chain requirements at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov. A mobile version is also available.
· Motorists also can use the California Highway Information Network automated phone service by calling 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).
· Motorists can see real-time conditions before they hit the road by using our map of traffic cameras in the Sacramento Valley, up Interstate 80, U.S. Highway 50 and around the Tahoe Basin.
· Follow Caltrans District 3 on Twitter @CaltransDist3 and Facebook to receive the latest information about current roadway conditions.
· For forecast information, visit the National Weather Service website.
ANTICIPATE DELAYS AND CLOSURES
· Understand that winter weather and road conditions can change rapidly and allow for extra travel time.
· Make sure you share the route you intend to take with friends or family.
· Exercise patience and respect for other motorists.
Caltrans crews will be working around the clock to keep the roadways open and clear. Motorists are urged to be “Be Work Zone Alert” and to “Slow for the Cone Zone.”