The National Weather Service has put out a Winter Storm Warning for the Mt. Shasta area that includes snow accumulations of up to 16 inches in some areas above 3,500 feet and the possibility of wind gusts as high as 65 miles per hour.
Of course, not all winter storms materialize as forecast, but the most recent Warning calls for a "significant winter storm” that will move into northern California on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019.
The NWS expects heavy, wet snow in the mountains with impacts down to as low as 3,500 feet, including near Mount Shasta City and McCloud.
Snow is predicted to begin early Saturday morning and become heavy at times through Saturday afternoon. Precipitation should diminish by Saturday evening as the storm moves inland. More precipitation is forecast for Sunday and Monday, but that was not part of the Warning.
Snowfall rates will be around one inch per hour Saturday afternoon, according to NWS, and total snow accumulations of 6 to 10 inches, with localized amounts up to 16 inches are expected in South Central Siskiyou County and North Central and Southeast Siskiyou County. The area includes much of the Mount Shasta region, Interstate 5 from just south of Weed to Dunsmuir, all of Highway 89, including Snowmans Summit and near McCloud and the mountains south of Tennant.
The Warning states, “Plan on difficult travel conditions. Damage to trees and power lines is likely. Winds gusting as high as 65 mph will cause areas of blowing and drifting snow over the higher elevations.
More information is available at the web page: https://www.wrh.noaa.gov/mfr/HAZARD
The Warning includes the following precautionary/preparedness actions:
• Travel is strongly discouraged because of dangerous conditions.
• If you must travel, keep tire chains, a flashlight, blankets, food, water, medications, and a fully charged phone with you.
• The safest place during a winter storm is indoors.
• A Winter Storm Warning means that severe winter weather is likely and poses a threat to life and property. Take protective action now.
Caltrans safety tips for winter driving
Caltrans also responded to the storm forecast by releasing the following safety tips for winter driving and chain control information:
• Reduce your speed to match driving conditions and allow more time to reach your destination. Know that bridges and ramps may be more slippery than the roadway.
• Keep your fuel tank full. Bad weather may cause long delays or closures.
• Turn on your headlights to see and be seen. Be observant and maintain a safe distance behind snow removal equipment. Do not pass snow plows unless directed to do so.
• When driving in fog, reduce your speed and use headlights on low-beam along with fog lights. Stay to the right along the white edge line and never stop in the road. If visibility is not adequate, pull off of the roadway when safe to do so.
• Do not drive through flooded areas. Safely turn around and find another route.
• If you start sliding on snow or ice, slowly take your foot off the gas pedal and steer in the direction you wish to travel. Do not lock your brakes. Pump the brakes if needed, or apply steady pressure if your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes.
• Don’t use cruise control.
• Avoid in-car distractions while driving.
• If you are stalled, activate your hazard signals and stay with your vehicle. Conserve fuel by periodically turning your engine on and off while maintaining warmth, but be aware of possible exhaust and carbon monoxide issues.
• If you approach an emergency, maintenance, or any other vehicle stopped on the side of the road, move over when safe to do so or slow down.
Caltrans suggests being prepared
The following actions, as listed by Caltrans, can help prevent vehicle failures and help if you become stranded:
• Winterize your vehicle. Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, heater/defroster, and exhaust system are in good working order. Make sure fluids are topped-off, especially windshield washer fluid.
• Make sure your tires are properly inflated and always carry tire chains.
• Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle with the following items: flashlight, blankets, extra clothing, water, snacks, towel, gloves, ice scraper, shovel, broom, sand, and carry a spare key on your person in case you lock yourself out of your vehicle.
• All vehicles, including those with four-wheel drive or snow tires, should carry chains when traveling in snowy weather. Highway signs and QuickMap (http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/) will indicate when chains are required, and drivers must stop and install chains. Motorists should pull off the roadway completely to install chains. If you need help, chain installers may be available to assist for a fee. Please note, chain installers are not Caltrans employees. They are independent business people who are licensed to install chains. Once chains are installed, obey the speed limit of 25 or 30 miles per hour, posted at various locations.
Chain control information
R-1: Chains, traction devices or snow tires with proper tread depth of 6/32” are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles.
R-2: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels. (NOTE: Four-wheel/all-wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.)
R-3: Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions. (NOTE: R-1 and R-2 are the most common chain controls. The highway will usually be closed before an R-3 control is imposed).
For more information on winter driving, chain controls, and additional resources, visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/cttravel/winter.html. Caltrans’ “Weathering the Storm” winter driving tips brochure is available at http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/winter_driving2015.pdf.