Update: Chains Required As Cold Storm Impacts The Victor Valley

By Nikki Garrett Metzger

Managing Editor

(Victor Valley) – The rain is falling intermittently across the High Desert and snow is causing drivers to chain up for their travels into the local mountains. If you are planning a trip up to Big Bear chains are now required on Hwy 18 from the 330 in Running Springs to Big Bear, with heavy snow reported at Snow Valley. Chains are required for Hwy 330 starting at the Upper Passing Lane before you get into Running Springs. For the Crestline area chain control starts on Hwy 18 at Lake Gregory.

The Big Pines area just west of Wrightwood reported four and a half inches of snow had fallen as of 3:45pm. Chain control is in place on Hwy 2 near Desert Front Rd. Snow was also reported in the Pinon Hills area at the 4800 foot level.

Although rain and snow flurries were reported earlier at the top of the Cajon Pass, there are no traffic restrictions at this time, according to the California Highway Patrol. In Los Angeles County Interstate 5 through the Grapevine has been shut down by the CHP due to snow.

A traffic collision with an empty school bus shut down Hwy 395 in the area of Air Expressway earlier. No injuries were reported.  It was unclear if this was weather related.

The National Weather Service in San Diego has issued a winter storm warning through tonight for the San Bernardino County Mountains, including I-15 at the Cajon Summit, I-15 at 3000 feet, Phelan, and Wrightwood.  Snow levels near 4500 feet will rapidly fall to around 2500 feet this afternoon, maybe locally lower with heavier showers and thunderstorms. Snow accumulations of 3-6 inches below 5000 feet are possible, with 6-12 inches over the higher elevations. Up to one inch is expected on High Desert Valley floor. Snow showers will taper off late tonight.

A wind advisory has been issued for the mountains and High Desert through 4 AM tomorrow, with the strongest and most widespread wind this evening. West winds 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 50 mph are expected.
For Tuesday – very cold in the morning with temperatures well below freezing.

To stay safe and avoid crashes while driving in the rain, the Auto Club recommends:

· Slow down.
Motorists should drive slowly, particularly through puddles. Driving at slower speeds also helps drivers be prepared for sudden stops due to disabled cars, debris, and other hazards associated with wet-weather driving.

· Keep your distance.
A car needs two to three times more stopping distance on wet pavement, so allow extra following distance between cars. If the car skids and control is lost, do not slam on the brakes. Instead apply the brakes with a steady, light but firm pressure. Remember to steer in the direction the car is sliding. When traction is regained, steering control will return. For cars equipped with anti-lock brakes, drivers should apply heavy steady pressure, but not pump the brakes.

· Use the center lanes.
When driving during heavy rain, use center lanes of the road (without straddling the yellow line). Avoid outside lanes where water collects at curbside.
· Check brakes periodically.
After driving through a puddle, check that brakes are working properly by tapping them gently a few times.

· Use headlights and windshield defroster.
Driving in the rain means reduced visibility. The Auto Club recommends that motorists turn on the vehicle’s headlights so they can see and be seen. Turning on the defroster helps keep the inside of the windshield clear of moisture.

· Avoid distractions.
Motorists are advised to avoid eating, drinking, cellular phone use, text-ing, tuning the radio, fumbling with CDs or applying makeup while driving, particularly in the rain. If it’s necessary to engage in these activities, pull over and stop in a safe place.

· Stay informed.
Tune into radio and television weather reports to know where traffic congestion or crashes might be located. If possible, avoid these areas.

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