PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — Heavy snowfall at low elevations made travel difficult and dangerous for people on Highway 50 Friday night.
Rows of cars were pulled to the side of the road as people tightened chains to their vehicles. It was all happening in Placerville, at 2000 feet of elevation.
“We are determined to get there tonight,” said one woman traveling from the Bay Area.
She and her friends booked a trip and didn’t want to miss any time spent in the mountains.
“We did see weather warnings, but we’re hoping if we leave a little later that they would clear the roads by then,” she continued.
Others had a stressful drive navigating the snow-covered Sierra.
“At times I couldn’t see through the snow, had to pull over to clean the windshield wipers, get going again,” said Tadd Perkins.
Many drivers were surprised to see chain controls so early in their trip.
“Some people get frustrated they have to chain up so early, but if we don’t change up there, there’s nowhere else to go,” explained Steve Nelson with CalTrans District 3.
The restrictions began at 4,000 feet this morning and moved down the hill as the day went on.
“I’ve been here five years now, and I’ve never seen it get that low,” said Nelson.
It’s all part of a challenging day for highway workers. One of them narrowly escaped disaster.
Whiteout conditions were so dangerous, a Caltrans snow plow driver went to the right of a snow guide and flipped his truck.
“We had to hold traffic on Highway 50 a couple times this afternoon to get that truck out of there,” said Nelson.
The driver is OK but serves as a prime example of why the weather service issued travel and safety warnings.
“If you don’t have to drive up here tonight, don’t,” Said Nelson, echoing the sentiment from the National Weather Service.
The winter weather advisory is set to expire by Saturday evening.