Heavy Rains and Mountain Snow to Impact NorCal Motorists
Significant precipitation expected from atmospheric river “Pineapple Express” storm
Caltrans District 3 is alerting motorists to be prepared for extreme winter driving conditions today through Sunday as heavy rains and significant snowfall totals are expected across Northern California when an atmospheric river storm arrives from the Pacific Ocean.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is forecasting heavy rainfall today and Thursday throughout California. A cold front moves in Thursday night and predictions for up to five feet of snow for higher elevations above 3,500 feet continues through Friday evening. One to three inches of rainfall is forecast for Valley areas beginning today, leading to risks of flooded roadways. Snow flurries and moderate rainfall is forecast to continue Saturday through Sunday morning.
Donner and Echo Summit passes are expected to be severely impacted by this storm. Motorists who must travel on foothill and mountain highways, including Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 50, should expect chain controls, significant travel delays and possible flooded roadways. Gusty winds are also are expected with this storm, possibly creating creating white-out conditions of limited or zero visibility.
To assist motorists, Caltrans permitted and trained chain installers will be available on Interstate 80 and Highway 50 and can be identified by a reflective sign with their bib number.
Severe weather is expected to slow motorists, resulting in roadway congestion. Wet and icy roadways reduce tire traction, especially at high vehicle speeds, and can result in loss of driver control. Motorists are advised to slow down and are especially cautioned to observe the following winter driving tips, which can also be found at http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html:
WINTERIZE YOUR VEHICLE
• Check anti-freeze levels and consider a de-icer for car locking mechanisms.
• 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 warm 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
• 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.
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