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Drivers see snow fall for the first time in years on Cuesta Grade

Cuesta Grade
Posted at 4:29 PM, Feb 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-23 22:23:52-05

Thursday morning, cold temperatures on the Central Coast caused snow to fall along the Cuesta Grade for the first time in years.

“My first reaction was, I feel for the people who have to commute down the Grade because that is going to be a little bit treacherous,” said Claudia Turner of San Luis Obispo.

Due to the icy conditions, Caltrans officials say they have amped up personnel to maintain the safety of those out on the road.

“At 7 a.m. this morning it started snowing on the Cuesta Grade and it cleared around 9 a.m. We did have to sand the grade just to allow for better traction for those vehicles,” said Alexa Bertola with Caltrans.

Additionally, Bertola says Thursday morning saw ice along the roadways of Highway 58 near Santa Margarita, with additional snowfall also seen on Highway 46 West.

“Our maintenance crews are on call 24 hours a day now that we are in storm mode. We also have extra staffing on standby and we also have emergency contractors also on standby if need be,” Bertola added.

She says this is the first time in several years that Caltrans District 5 crews have had to bring their sander truck out to tend to icy roads across the region.

“Essentially it carries around four yards of sand, and we did use roughly 2-3 yards of sand today just to make the traction better for those travelers along the Grade,” she said.

Throughout the day, semi-trucks on the Cuesta Grade could be seen cautiously passing at slow speeds up and down Highway 101. Other cars, meanwhile, continued speeding by.

“Keep it slow, don’t make any sudden moves, watch out for the other drivers. Make sure your car has good maintenance, good tires,” Turner told KSBY.

Caltrans also encourages drivers to download their quick map app where you can see active CHP incidents, lane closures, and also view a live feed of local traffic conditions.

Bertola says their maintenance crews are also keeping a close eye on highway drainage systems to make sure they are clear before, after and during a storm to prevent flooding.