Take it slow on roadways, officials warn

Resident reports close call with nature
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Sophia Harrower was jolted out of a peaceful morning when she heard a crash just outside her home Monday. When the Auburn resident looked out her window, she saw the large limb – which dwarfed her neighbor’s four-door sedan, lying between her property and his. “I was sitting here in the living room when I heard this crash and I looked up,” Harrower said. “I was on the phone, talking to my daughter and she heard it too on the phone.” Harrower wasn’t the only one facing problems due to significant snowfall in the foothills. On Monday, schools and roadways were closed as crews plowed through up to 8 inches of snow and slush in parts of Auburn, according to early unofficial reports. Highway conditions can change Chain requirements were in effect midday Monday on Interstate 80 from three miles east of Gold Run to the Nevada stateline, according to information from the state Department of Transportation. Chains were also required for non-four-wheel drive vehicles and those without snow tires on Highway 49 from four miles south of Grass Valley to the city of Grass Valley. However, Commander John Arrabit with the Gold Run California Highway Patrol Office cautioned that road openings and closures and chain requirements will change with the weather. “When we have this kind of snow consistently, the highway is closed and reopened intermittently throughout the day and night,” Arrabit said. “Oftentimes we have to do that in order to give Caltrans plows time to clear the road to make it safe for passage over the summit.” Residents were calling in downed trees and power lines and law enforcement officers are stressing road safety tips as snow is expected to turn to ice with a drop in temperature later Monday. “We’re hearing potentially another four to five inches in snow and a potentially drastic drop in temperature tonight, which means icy roads tomorrow,” Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris said Monday. Harris advised motorists to avoid driving if at all possible. And if you have to drive, consider your route, Harris said. “Use extra caution on routes that are uphill and downhill,” Harris said. “Avoid those if you can.” Collisions close Indian Hill Road Spinouts and collisions spurred some road closures Monday. Indian Hill Road was temporarily closed as a result of several minor-injury vehicle collisions, according to Officer David Martinez, spokesman for the Auburn California Highway Patrol Office. He said most of the accidents were a combination of driving too fast and losing control on slippery roads. Harris said that all city road crews were responding to calls of fallen trees and on standby for any reports of downed power lines. Monday morning there was a report of a limb partially blocking the lane on the 200 block of Oak Street, Harris said. Both Harris and Anita Yoder, Placer County spokeswoman, said roadway hazards take priority. “We’re up working trying to clear roadways and manage that type of impact,” Harris said. “We’re making sure that we don’t have downed lines that are threats to people driving or walking.” Yoder added that residents can call the county Public Works Department if they see limbs or trees in the right-of-way. Calls for fallen power lines need to be directed to Pacific Gas & Electric Company, Yoder said. Yoder said that most of the county’s transit lines are running well except for the Alta-Colfax line, which was not operating Monday as crews and snowplows were out managing the roads. “All of our snow-removal equipment is out and working so we’re having a busy morning,” Yoder said. Harrower said she’s thankful the large tree limb didn’t damage her home or her neighbor’s house close by. She said she plans to stay inside her “cozy” home and enjoy the quiet snowfall while reading a book and playing with her cat, Katy. “I’m 86 years old and I don’t go out when it’s bad,” Harrower said. “I’m just enjoying the beautiful scene I’m looking at.” Jenifer Gee can be reached at ---------- Roadway help - If you spot a tree in the road and it’s blocking the right of way, call the county Public Works Department at (530) 745-7565 if it’s on a county road. If a limb is on an Auburn city road, call Public Works at (530) 823-4211 ext. 0. - If you spot a downed power line, call Pacific Gas & Electric Company at (800) 743-5000 - To check highway conditions, visit Cal Trans’ Web site at or call (800) 427-ROAD (7623) ---------- Driving tips As weekend snowfall is expected to turn to ice, John Arrabit, commander of the California Highway Patrol Gold Run office, has tips he hopes drivers take to heart. - Reduce your speed and increase your following distance - Allow extra time to travel and be prepared for delays - Monitor traffic conditions at the CHP’s Web site Follow links to current traffic conditions or view Cal Trans Web site at to see live video of major highways - Check your vehicle prior to your trip. Pack extra snacks and drinks and activities if you are traveling with children - If you’re traveling in the snow, make sure your anti-freeze has been changed - Change windshield wiper blades as they may have deteriorated with summer weather and have extra windshield wiper fluid available - Make sure you have the proper tires and know how to put on changes if traveling in snowy areas ----------