The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a winter storm warning for areas in the Mother Lode above 1,500 feet in elevation that will remain in effect until Thursday at 7 p.m.
Travel for the next two days will be difficult to impossible given the amount of snowfall on the roads, limited visibility and the risk of tree branches falling, NWS states.
Calaveras County will see isolated showers throughout the day, with a potential for thunder, gusts and hail, according to Sierra Littlefield, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
Those conditions will continue into tonight, possibly mixing with snow in the higher elevations, and the lows will be around freezing, Littlefield said. Additional snow accumulations of 2 to 6 inches, with 8 to 18 inches above 3,000 feet, are expected.
There’s a 40% chance of rain showers on Thanksgiving, and while Friday will be drier as the weather system moves out of the area, it’ll still be chilly, with lows around 30 degrees, according to Littlefield. The higher the elevation, the better the chance of snow and precipitation, she said.
Keep snow shovels and umbrellas on hand for the weekend. Another cold system originating from the Gulf of Alaska will bring a chance of showers Saturday through Tuesday, Littlefield said.
For those with plans to enter or leave the county for Thanksgiving, Littlefield said the safest day to drive will likely be Sunday, with storm conditions potentially letting up.
When driving, the NWS recommends people keep an extra flashlight, food and water in the vehicle in case of an emergency.
There are currently no state route closures in Calaveras County due to winter storms, Warren Alford, district 10 California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) public information officer confirmed, but the district’s mountain passes remain closed.
John Osbourn, Office of Emergency Services director told the Enterprise his office is seeing snow at about 2,600 feet along parts of the Hwy 4 corridor, and Public Works crews are busy removing snow from county roads, as well as Caltrans on the state highway.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s outage map is showing power outages occurring for over 1,000 customers between Avery and Forest Meadows, 54 customers in San Andreas and nearly 1,300 customers in the northeast part of the county.
Paul Moreno, PG&E spokesman said communities impacted by power outages include portions of Hathaway Pines, Avery, Murphys and Forest Meadows, along with areas along Rail Road Flat to Jesus Maria Road and around Tiger Creek.
Most of the outages occurred this morning, though some homes went dark last night, he said.
Moreno said there’s no estimation of when power may be restored, as crews will have to determine causes of outages and what equipment may be required to make repairs on lines.
“We’re seeing the first snow of the season and snow at lower elevations than usual, in the range of 2,000 feet,” Moreno said. “We do have crews working through the holiday weekend so we can restore power to our customers and they can enjoy their weekend.”
Moreno said there could be additional outages over the weekend as the next cold front comes in.
NWS tips for staying safe during a winter storm warning
-Stay indoors during the storm. Prolonged exposure to cold can cause hypothermia.
-Walk and drive carefully on icy sidewalks and roads. Many injuries and accidents are caused by slippery conditions.
-Before driving, let someone know your destination, route, and expected time of arrival. If your car gets stuck, it’ll be easier to find you.
-If you lose feeling and color in your nose, ears, hands or feet, cover the exposed area, avoid rubbing your skin, and seek medical help immediately. You may have frostbite.
-When shoveling snow, take breaks and lift lighter loads. Working too hard can lead to heart attacks.
-Stay dry. Wet clothes make you lose body heat, increasing your risk of hypothermia.