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Snow takes drivers off guard as agencies prepare for more Winter weather impacts

Posted at 9:03 PM, Feb 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-24 02:58:54-05

Winter weather has already complicated travel on mountain passes.

Significant snowfall took drivers off guard and led to an hours-long closure of Highway 154 over the San Marcos pass on Thursday.

“The last time we closed Highway 154 (due to snow) was roughly two years ago, “said Caltrans Spokesperson Alexa Bertola.

Caltrans sent four snowplows that immediately began working to clear the highway.

The agency also sent a truck to spread sand on Highway 154 so that drivers could regain traction.

“There’s a possibility that the highway could close again so we do have our maintenance teams on standby 24 hours a day while this storm is in our area,” added Bertola.

Highway 154 reopened at around 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, allowing drivers to continue their journey.

“My wife did go up that way. She was up there and got caught in the traffic as the snow was coming down this afternoon,” said Aaron Boucher, owner of 805 Roadside Towing. “There were probably a few dozen cars up there and she was one of them, but she got down safely.”

805 Towing has brought on extra staff to prepare for more winter weather-related issues.

“Our trucks are not made to be in the snow. Obviously, it’s Santa Barbara. Our trucks are most comfortable in the sunshine and the beach weather,” said Boucher.

From service calls to debris cleanup, tow truck crews are gearing up for a potentially busy weekend.

“It’s not a race to get to your destination at times like this. Take it easy and get there safely, “added Boucher.

Snow disrupted travel over the San Marcos pass, but it was a more pleasant sight in Atascadero where snow began to fall on Thursday morning.

“It did start to stick to the ground a bit. It probably snowed for 15 minutes and right as it started to come down and stick to the grass, it kind of stopped,” said Atascadero Resident Ben Christian, who lives on the south end of town and began his day by taking a walk in the snow.

“I just went walking out in the snow and looked up and it was just coming down,” he explained.

The snow didn’t stick around for long, but much higher accumulations are expected in the mountains which is great news for ski resorts.

“The rain in general is gonna be great but I’ll be up at China Peak this weekend really enjoying the weekend,” said Christian.