Winter storms slammed northern California over the weekend with a one-two punch, with heavy rain causing localized flooding, wind knocking down trees and limbs, and killing power to more than a hundred thousand customers in the Sacramento area. Blizzard conditions shut down I-80 between Colfax and the Nevada border.
According to the National Weather Service a third storm system is forecast to begin today and while it will not be as strong it will have local impacts. Several more storm systems will move across the state bringing another round of valley rain and mountain snow midweek, and then again next weekend.
This brief respite is a good time to ensure you and your family are prepared for severe winter weather.
Communications Check List
- Make sure you have at least one of the following in case there is a power failure:
- Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries.
- Battery-powered radio, with extra batteries, for listening to local emergency instructions
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio receiver for listening to National Weather Service broadcasts. Learn more about NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.
- Make a Family Communication Plan. Your family may not be together during an extreme winter event, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together, and what you will do during an emergency.
- Be sure to check on older neighbors and family members; assist as necessary.
- Cooking & Lighting
- Food & Safety
- Water During Freezing
- Car Emergency
Check California road conditions here.
Before Driving in Winter Conditions:
- Make sure your brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, heater and exhaust system are in top condition.
- Check your antifreeze and be ready for colder temperatures. You may want to add special solvent to your windshield washer reservoir to prevent icing.
- Check your tires. Make sure they are properly inflated and the tread is in good condition.
- Always carry chains. Make sure they are the proper size for your tires and are in working order. Carry a flashlight and chain repair links. Chains must be installed on the drive wheels. Make sure you know if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive.
- Other suggested items to carry in your car are an ice scraper or commercial deicer, a broom for brushing snow off your car, a shovel to free your car if it’s “snowed in,” sand or burlap for traction if your wheels should become mired in snow; and an old towel to clean your hands.
- It is also a good idea to take along water, food, warm blankets and extra clothing. A lengthy delay will make you glad you have them.
- Put an extra car key in your pocket. A number of motorists have locked themselves out of their cars when putting on chains and at ski areas.
- Allow enough time. Trips to the mountains can take longer during winter than other times of year, especially if you encounter storm conditions or icy roads. Get an early start and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Keep your gas tank full. It may be necessary to change routes or turn back during a bad storm or you may be caught in a traffic delay.
- Keep windshield and windows clear. You may want to stop at a safe turnout to use a snow or, ice or scraper. Use the car defroster and a clean cloth to keep the windows free of fog.
- Slow down. A highway speed of 55 miles an hour may be safe in dry weather – but an invitation for trouble on snow and ice. Snow and ice make stopping distances much longer, so keep your seat belt buckled and leave more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead. Bridge decks and shady spots can be icy when other areas are not. Remember to avoid sudden stops and quick direction changes.
- Be more observant. Visibility is often limited in winter by weather conditions. Slow down and watch for other vehicles and for snow equipment. Even though snow removal vehicles have flashing lights, visibility may be so restricted during a storm that it is difficult to see the slow-moving equipment.
- When stalled, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or monoxide problems.