Motorists traveling in the Sierra foothills and mountains are advised to prepare for winter driving conditions with a new storm forecast to arrive early Thursday.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning effective from 1 a.m. Thursday to 4 a.m. Saturday for areas above the 6,500-foot elevation. After a possible break from Saturday afternoon through Sunday afternoon, another storm is expected to arrive Sunday evening.
The California Department of Transportation noted that more that 4 feet of new snow is expected on summit passes by Thursday, and more than 4 inches of rain is forecast for valley and foothills regions. High-wind gusts are expected to accompany the storms, increasing the risk of falling trees and low visibility for drivers, according to a state Department of Transportation news release.
Chain restrictions likely will be in effect on Interstate 80 over Donner Summit and on Highway 50 over Echo Summit, as well as in the Tahoe Basin. Chains are required even for four- or all-wheel-drive vehicles, as well as those with mud and snow-rated tires, according to the news release.
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Motorists traveling over Echo Summit or other roadways in the Sierra or Tahoe Basin should also be prepared for intermittent delays due to avalanche control.
Caltrans noted that although Highway 89 reopened Tuesday evening after a two-week closure in the Emerald Bay area due to heavy snow, it could be closed again because of avalanche hazards.
Travel on Interstate 80 could be intermittently halted to clear traffic incidents or because of low visibility. Caltrans also urges motorists to watch for mud and rock slides on mountain roads.
Snow removal crews will work around the clock. Caltrans instructs motorists to keep a safe distance from the equipment and to pass only when the entire roadway ahead is visible.
Winter driving tips are available on Caltrans’ website.
Motorists can check current road conditions on Caltrans’ “QuickMap, or by calling the California Highway Information Network automated phone service at 800-427-7623.
Caltrans also provides updates on Twitter @CaltransDist3 and on Facebook at Caltrans District 3.