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Snow is a slippery business

An unusually cold airmass over Northern California dumped up to 6 inches of snow Sunday morning in Nevada County, prompting an onslaught of spinouts on local streets and highways and stranding several motorists.

The snowstorm began early, claiming its first reported victims at 4:18 a.m. when seven people in three four-wheel-drive vehicles drove to a wooded area off of Highway 20 several yards east of the Washington turnoff to help two other vehicles – a gold Isuzu trooper and a red Chevy pickup – get out of the snow, where they had been stranded since Saturday.

“A couple more people got stuck when they went down to help,” said John Landry, a local man who was called to help pull out the vehicles with his 4WD.



The temperature in Grass Valley at that time was reported to be 27 degrees.

Sheriff’s deputies also helped dislodge the vehicles, but they also became stranded when they ran out of gas afterwards, a sheriff’s dispatcher said.




By 6 a.m., everyone had gotten out of the snow and back onto Highway 20 uninjured, and many continued to help stranded drivers.

“I just pulled another car out,” said Landry at 3 p.m. Sunday, when temperatures had warmed to 32 degrees. “I haven’t gotten any sleep at all.”

Quikcast.com forecaster Harry Stockman said the snow level Sunday reached as low as 600 feet, with 1 inch of snow reported in Folsom.

He said Auburn got 3 inches of snow, and Grass Valley and surrounding areas were hit with 3-6 inches, while Sugar Bowl ski resort reported getting 7 inches due to the storm.

Grass Valley police assisted the California Highway Patrol with a single-vehicle spin-out at 7:46 a.m. on Highway 49 just north of McKnight Way and a vehicle flipover on Brunswick Road at Loma Rica Drive at approximately 10 a.m. No one was hurt in either accident, said Grass Valley Police Department dispatcher Emma Santa.

“Luckily (public works) were able to plow really quickly this morning, and people are staying in,” Santa said. “If it had been a workday, it would have been a completely different story. The worst snow would have been during the morning commute.”

Caltrans required chains on Highway 49 starting four miles south of Grass Valley up to Nevada City and on Highway 20 six miles east of Nevada City to the junction of Highway 80, where snow tires or chains were required over Donner Pass.

At 10:55 a.m., a gray car slid off Alexandra way at Joseph Drive. The driver was not injured.

The CHP issued a traffic advisory at 11:31 a.m. that Brunswick Road, Idaho-Maryland Road and Banner Lava Cap Road were all impassable due to icy conditions.

At 12:26 p.m., a sedan got stuck in the slow lane on Highway 49 just north of Lime Kiln Road. The CHP assisted, and no one was hurt by the traffic hazard.

Several cars spun out on Banner Lava Cap Road just west of Idaho Maryland Drive at 12:29 p.m.

A CHP dispatcher said the area was treated with sand at approximately 1 p.m. and it was no longer a hazard, but at 1:55 p.m., a truck trailer spun out in the same intersection. The CHP assisted.

About 25 minutes later, a vehicle spun out and was blocking the southbound lane of North Bloomfield road just north of Cooper Road. Five minutes later, there was a noninjury collision on Banner Quaker Hill Road at Pasquale Road.

Stockman said to expect some sunshine with clouds today, and a chance of rain tonight.

“You’ll have another rainstorm Tuesday,” he said, “and Tuesday night there’s another chance of snow.”

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To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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