Sierra Highways open, but stay away: Caltrans

CALIFORNIA – After a week of storms, northern California is drying out, according to the National Weather Service.

While the rain and snow have shifted, cold temperatures remain with daytime highs predicted in the 1950s and nightly lows in the 1930s in most areas.

Caltrans has reopened the Bay Area’s major roads to Lake Tahoe and points east – Interstate 80 and US Highway 50 – but driving conditions remain difficult with heavy snow causing significant delays and requiring tire chains.

Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin posted a video to social media on Wednesday urging drivers in the Bay Area and the state to avoid non-essential mountain travel until weather conditions improve .

“If you have to travel, make sure you are prepared, Omishakin said.

He urged those who wish to visit family and friends to “stay off the roads, conditions are dangerous”.

Caltrans redirected all available teams in the mountains to reopen the roads, bringing in operators from as far as the Bay Area to help. The department has 1,350 field workers who clean mountain highways, working 24/7 in 12-hour shifts, and has deployed more than 600 snowplows statewide.

Caltrans recorded more than $ 22 million in storm damage to state highways during the current winter storm, not to mention the costs of removing snow and fallen trees. Hundreds of trees have fallen on the highways, slowing the snow removal process.

  • Caltrans shared the following safety tips for motorists who need to travel to the mountains:
  • Before setting off, check Caltrans QuickMap for the latest information on road closures and chain control.
  • Wear chains and be prepared for winter driving conditions.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order by checking your brakes, wipers, antifreeze, radiators and exhaust systems before setting off.
  • Do not attempt to bypass freeway closures by using secondary roads.
  • Slow down for Caltrans crews, California Highway Patrol officers, and other emergency responders trying to help control traffic and clear the roads.
  • “Don’t Crowd the Plow” – tailgating or trying to get around snowplows can lead to potentially dangerous situations.
  • Have an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes blankets, water, food, a shovel, gloves, flashlight, and sand or kitty litter to provide traction in case your vehicle gets stuck.
  • Bring cash in case power is not available for credit card transactions.
  • Keep your phone charged in case you need it in an emergency.

As for the next wave of rain and snow, the weekend should remain dry, according to the National Weather Service. But watch out for reporting as rain and snow return early next week.


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