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Low snow levels could cause issues on roadways

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Posted at 6:03 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 01:43:44-05

The usually sunny Central Coast is bracing for freezing conditions that could lead to snow falling at unusually low elevations.

"Kids grow up, become adults here on the Central Coast and unless you leave the area you might not see snow if you're a California kid this close to the ocean. This is unique," explained KSBY News Chief Meteorologist Dave Hovde.

Snow levels could drop to around 1,000 feet, and that raises driving concerns for roadways at that altitude.

"If you're a California resident and you're wondering what this could be like, think of a Grapevine snow event. We have those all the time where the roads have to be monitored and possibly closed," Hovde said.

"If you do encounter some black ice, my advice would be to take your foot off the gas, off the acceleration and don’t make any sudden steering direction," warns Officer Miguel Alvarez, San Luis Obispo California Highway Patrol.

Drivers are warned to use caution this weekend. While Caltrans has used sand on icy roads in the past, they say it is not used prior to a storm, only after.

CHP warns drivers to be prepared for an inevitable uptick in crashes.

"Inclement weather always gives us a little more calls for service with traffic collisions and I'm sure that will be the case this weekend as well," Alvarez said.

"It's too early to say there’s going to be snow on the Cuesta Grade. It’s not a slam dunk because these events are so rare. It's not a slam dunk but it's an open floor fast break," Hovde said.

One of the big factors Hovde mentioned is the likelihood that this snow will stick. He says for that to happen, there needs to be either a lot of snow or our air temperature to drop to freezing. Since both are possible, it's just a waiting game.

Caltrans says that during inclement weather events, they do close the Grapevine on Interstate 5 in Kern County and that may cause an increase in traffic on Highway 101 through the Central Coast.