Winter storm arrives in western Nevada County |

Winter storm arrives in western Nevada County

At last year's Christmas at the Railroad Museum celebration, Santa visits with Brielle Gleisner, 3 months, and her brother Jamison, 2. This year's celebration will be held Dec. 14.
John Hart | The Union

Winter has arrived in western Nevada County, blanketing much of the community in snow that will likely lead to cancellations of community events and pose some perilous driving conditions.

Snow began falling in Grass Valley just before 5 p.m. Friday, in advance of the National Weather Service’s Winter Storm Warning in effect from 10 p.m. Friday to 4 p.m. Saturday. The weather service predicts 3 to 12 inches of snowfall in the foothill area, with up to 2 feet possible in the Sierra. Light accumulations could be found as low as 500 feet in elevation, according to the weather service forecast.

“Driving conditions normally seen only near pass levels will occur at much lower elevations,” the report stated. “Combined wind and heavy snow could bring white-out conditions. Downed tree and power lines from accumulating snow (are possible).”

A low of 10 degrees is predicted for Saturday night in Grass Valley, with a high of 38, beneath sunny skies, is set for Sunday.

Christmas at Railroad Museum postponed

The Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad and Transportation Museum’s annual Christmas at the Railroad Museum has been postponed until Dec. 14.

Due to Friday’s winter storm warning from the National Weather Service predicting heavy snowfall that could create treacherous travel conditions, the railroad museum has asked Santa Claus to postpone his visit until the following week, said Madelyn Helling, museum director.

The event has been rescheduled to 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Dec. 14, at the museum’s 5 Kidder Court location in Nevada City (the intersection of Bost Ave. and New Mohawk Road). For more information on the museum and its annual Christmas celebration, visit or call 530-470-0902.

Protect fire sprinkler systems from freezing

With the lower than normal temperatures that our area has been experiencing the last several days, Nevada County Consolidated Fire District informs business owners, apartment complex owners and residents, that, along with protecting domestic water pipes, it is important to protect fire sprinkler systems from freezing.

Often, owners and occupants of vacant or unoccupied buildings and suites will turn the heating system completely off. While this may save energy, it can also be a recipe for disaster during extremely cold spells, according to a news release from NCCFD.

“Water pipes for fire sprinkler systems that protect many buildings typically run through attic spaces,” the release states. “These areas usually get enough heat from the occupied space below, keeping both domestic and fire sprinkler pipes from freezing. However, when the heat is completely shut down, these pipes can freeze and break. As the daytime temperatures increase and the water in the pipes start to thaw, flooding can occur without warning, causing extensive water damage.”

Consolidated Fire has already responded to a fire sprinkler water flow alarm in a vacant office complex, resulting in major damage caused by domestic water and fire sprinkler system lines breaking. This could have been avoided by keeping the heating system on at a low temperature.

If you have any questions or concerns, call your fire sprinkler contractor or your local fire department.

Tips for driving in snow

County road maintenance crews are preparing for a 24-hour-per-day snow removal operation this weekend. As a reminder, if you are driving in the snow, be aware of snow removal equipment in the roadway. For your safety and the safety of the snow-plow drivers, drive slowly as you approach snow-removal equipment.

AAA offers the following tips for driving in the snow:

— Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.

— Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning — nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.

— The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.

— Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

— Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.

— Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill, and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.

— Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

— Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

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