MOUNTAIN AREA — A Winter Storm Watch is in effect this weekend for the Sierra Nevada from Yosemite to Kings Canyon above 4,500 feet, as a storm brings rain and snow to the area.
A Winter Storm Watch means there is potential for significant snow, sleet or ice accumulations that may impact travel.
The National Weather Service (NWS) says the Winter Storm Watch is in effect from 10 a.m. on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 5 through noon on Sunday, Jan. 6.
Heavy snow is possible above 4,500 feet, with total snow accumulations of up to 16 inches possible. Winds could gust as high as 45 miles per hour on exposed ridgetops and near the Sierra crest.
In the foothills, the NWS says between half an inch to one inch of rain is expected on Saturday.
If driving, plan on slippery road conditions and remember that travel could be very difficult to impossible. Gusty winds may bring down tree branches. Continue to monitor the latest forecasts — links to weather by town are below.
Caltrans urges motorists to be prepared, use caution.
Taking action and being proactive can help reduce the risk of injury and even death on the highways during the upcoming storm. Operators of vehicles must use their best judgment in all types of weather.
With snow and rain expected on Sierra Nevada highways this weekend motorists are encouraged to allow for more travel time, slow down, carry chains and bring extra food and water. Rainfall is expected for lower-elevation passes, including State Route 140 in Mariposa County.
Caltrans expects to have crews patrolling SR-140 from north of Briceburg to Yosemite National Park on Saturday, Jan. 5, watching for potential slide activity or debris flow. Crews will also check to ensure culverts and drains are clear and functioning.
Before traveling, Caltrans recommends checking weather and road conditions. Caltrans QuickMap is an online resource with real-time traffic flow information, chain control alerts, and closure information. It is also available as a Google and Apple app.
Motorists can also call 511 or the Caltrans Highway Information Network at 1-800-427-7623 for travel information. Live traffic cameras can also be useful to check conditions before traveling.
Winter driving tips:
- 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.
*denotes areas subject to the current Winter Weather Advisory