SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST– The National Weather Service is forecasting heavy winter weather for the Sierra National Forest (SNF) over the next few days. The weather system is expected to bring needed rainfall to the valley, and snow to the Southern Sierra, with snow levels falling to as low as 1500’ into the foothills. This weather is welcome for our environment, but comes with some associated hazards.
Strong wind and snow accumulations increase the risk of trees falling, both those that have experienced recent tree mortality as well as green trees. These falling trees can impact roadways, picnic areas, trails, camping spots, and parking areas. Forest Service, County, State, and private crews continue to work very hard to reduce tree hazards across the forest, keeping roads and seasonal recreation areas open. Dropping temperatures also provide ideal conditions for icy roadways. The SNF encourages residents and visitors to exercise caution when traveling through the forest.
Forest Supervisor Dean Gould said, “The safety of forest visitors, residents and employees is paramount. Staying informed and being prepared are some of the best ‘tools’ you can have. When traveling in the forest, please travel at a speed safe for the conditions – you never know what’s around a blind curve. There might be rocks, debris, a tree, or stopped or stalled vehicles, in the middle of the road.”
On Tuesday, Nov. 26, the large elephant gate on Kaiser Pass Road will be shut for the season, closing access to the Mono Hot Springs area. The gate along Stump Springs Road and McKinley Grove Road will be closed effective Dec. 1.
The following tips should be followed to enhance the safety and enjoyment of a trip to a National Forest:
• Keep informed on the latest weather conditions, particularly predictions of rain, strong winds, and heavy snow. Consider postponing your trip until conditions have stabilized. Be sure to check the National Weather Service, Hanford, CA, for weather updates before visiting.
• Carry snow/ice chains as they may be needed. Call Cal-Trans at 800-427-7623 or
visit their web page at www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi.
• Pack a winter survival kit with water, food, blankets, and a collapsible shovel.
• Be aware that trees can fall behind you potentially blocking your exit route. Research alternate routes that are available.
• Let family and friends know your travel plans and expected return time. Cell phone coverage is limited across the National Forest.