Wednesday, 01 February 2023

Weather gives rise to accidents, creates headaches for emergency personnel

THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED. 

 

LAKE COUNTY – Snowy conditions in parts of Lake County caused mayhem Thursday night, with dozens of cars reported sliding off area highways and drivers fighting in the road.


On Thursday evening Caltrans issued requirements for vehicles to have either chains or snow tires while traveling from one mile north of the junction between Highways 29 and 53 to the junction with Highway 281/Kit's Corner.


On Highway 175, Caltrans reported that chains were required on all vehicles except four-wheel drives with snow tires on all wheels from six miles east of the junction with Highway 101 in Mendocino County to two miles west of the junction with Highway 29 outside of Lakeport.

 

County Public Works Director Gerald Shaul said his road crews was out by about 4 p.m. Thursday in an effort to clear and sand county roadways.


Shortly after snow began falling in parts of Lake County in the early evening, the California Highway Patrol's incident logs showed several cases of cars either becoming stuck in the snow or sliding off onto road shoulders.


Snow fell on the Hopland Grade, where the CHP reported a vehicle was stuck in snow in the middle of the road on the Lake County side.


The CHP reported that as many as seven vehicles were stuck in snow just after 7 p.m. on Bottle Rock Road between one and two miles from Highway 29. About half the vehicles needed to be towed out.


The Lake County Roads Department sent out a plow to clear Bottle Rock, which was reportedly free of snow about six and a half miles from the highway, according to the CHP. Officials had to call out more than one tow service in order to find tow equipment capable of towing the cars without losing traction in the snow.


Across the county, things only got worse as the evening progressed.


At 8:41 p.m. CHP reported that 15 vehicles had gone off the road on Highway 29 near Kit's Corner.


Scanner traffic indicated at about 9 p.m. that as many as 30 vehicles were stuck on roadsides countywide, as sheriff's personnel, fire departments and other county departments were called for assistance.


Emergency personnel, in some cases, were stuck behind multiple vehicle jams and accidents, or were stuck themselves, according to radio reports.


Just after 10 p.m., CHP reported that approximately 23 vehicles had slid off Highway 29 just south of Diener Drive near Lower Lake, with 11 of them stuck in the snow.


The Lake County Sheriff's Office closed the Glasgow Grade a short time later, according to radio reports. The roadway has since reopened.


The CHP reported the need for Caltrans to bring sand and snow plows to the Glasgow Grade area, while local tow companies reported being out of chains.


In some cases, delays and being stranded caused some peoples' tempers to flare.


At Kit's Corner, where the roadway was blocked by cars unable to navigate the snow and ice, the CHP reported that fights were breaking out between drivers.


Tow trucks had to help remove some of the vehicles, while Caltrans sent a plow which cleared the roadway shortly before 10:30 p.m., according to CHP reports.


Snow affected other areas of the North Coast.


In Mendocino County, the CHP reported that portions of Highway 101 – between northbound Highway 101 at Uva, just north of Redwood Valley, and southbound 101 at Browns Corner just south of Willits – was closed for a few hours due to snow on the Willits Grade. The closure was lifted at about 10 p.m., according to a CHP report.


In Napa County, 1 inch of snow was reportedly sticking to Highway 29 at the summit of Mount St. Helena, according to the CHP.


CHP reported shortly after 1 a.m. Friday that all Lake County roadways were open.


Caltrans' chain requirements on areas of Highways 29 and 175 in Lake County remained in effect early Friday.


For the latest on roadway conditions, visit Caltrans' Web site at www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi or call their information line at 800-427-7623.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Harold LaBonte contributed to this report.


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