This past weekend’s winter weather brought waves of visitors to the Santa Ynez Valley to get a glimpse of recent snowfall on Figueroa Mountain.
On Tuesday, patches of fresh snow could still be seen from miles away atop the peak of the mountain. If you're thinking of driving out there to see the snow up close, Los Padres National Forest Public Information Officer Helen Tarbet says you should think twice.
“The roads are closed basically because we have so much damage created from the first storm. So now, with this other round of storms that we had, I am sure it only furthered it,” Tarbet said.
She says the storms have even prevented her crew members from accessing parts of the mountain to assess new damages, adding that the snow-covered roads can also hide additional washouts, making it more treacherous for drivers.
“With the snowpack, you are not going to see the washouts from underneath, so that is definitely a big one. Secondly, because of the weight of the snow, we are still having trees that are falling,” she added.
Still, as the past weekend saw a big influx of visitors hoping to see the snow, Los Olivos business owner Ron Alex says the crowds were a welcomed sight.
“We, in fact, expected a slow weekend last weekend because the weather was so bad. It was pouring here for a couple days but the place was packed on Saturday and Sunday. It was a terrific opportunity for us, we loved it,” Alex said.
He says colder, wet temperatures in Los Olivos usually translate to a smaller turnout at his business, but by Sunday, Alex says the surge of customers at the Cornerhouse Café left them out of stock of many items.
“Tourism during the winter months is very difficult because we are a big summer place. But it is shots in the arm like this that really make business successful,” he added.
Helen Tarbet says Los Padres crews hope to finish their repairs by springtime to once again welcome visitors to the park. In the meantime, she says there are still other options if you are itching to get your fill of the snow.
“The place I would recommend is the only section of the forest that isn’t closed and that is the Mount Pinos Ranger District which is off [Interstate] 5. It could make for a very nice time for you to take a ride out there because they have a lot more snow than what we have at Figueroa,” she added.
Los Padres officials say they will gradually begin opening portions of Figueroa Mountain Road as their repairs continue.