WINTER EVENT 2017
central california prepares for historic snowstorm
Update, 6:41 a.m. Thursday: California State Troopers have identified a 4th victim of Wednesday morning's avalanche as 60-year-old farmer Randall West of Ashwick Valley.
Update, 5:56 p.m. Wednesday: Around 8 a.m. Wednesday, Daniel Martinez, with Wildlife Troopers, stated that they were unable to retrieve the body of a potential 4th victim of today's avalanche. Martinez said the avalanche conditions need to be assessed at daylight. Tomorrow, California Mountain Rescue Group and others plan to make a recovery, if possible, he said.
"Over the past several days there have been some really high winds that have transported snow and have built some dangerous wind slabs", said Crystal Workman, Director of the Sierra Avalanche Center. Workman said the avalanche was not human triggered. Troopers are asking the public to refrain from going to the Plaines Pass road area. “We don’t want someone up above triggering an avalanche on top of the recovery,” Martinez said.
California State Troopers, California State Parks, California Wildlife Troopers and the Cal-ESAR EMS rescue squad are currently on the scene. A CST helicopter attempted to fly to the rescue area, but was unable to land, according to Workman; therefore, the recovery of the deceased will be performed by rescuers on foot tomorrow.
Update, 7:33 a.m. Wednesday: The unexpected snowstorm that has now ravaged the town for three days has produced the first avalanche recorded in Ashwick Valley. That avalanche occurred in the western peak of the Cortez Range known as 'Gull's Peak' overlooking Aswick Valley's Plaines neighborhood.
The slide had a 14 feet crown, about 300 feet wide, and 700 feet long, as tracked by the website of the Sierra Avalanche Center. Few properties in the form of farmland and ranches were wiped out in the outskirts of town, wiping 3/4's of all roads heading in and out of the city.
Power lines feeding much needed electricity into the surrounding areas were also downed, with the Northern California Power agency estimating that lines and services not being restored for a few days until snow is cleared and the danger of further avalanches have subsided. Ashwick Municipal Airport's ILS system has suffered a break due to beacons being knocked out in the mountain areas and will remain closed until further notice, flights will be redirected accordingly.
The mayor has declared a state of emergency in Ashwick Valley, and has called for the National Guard to help out citizens. At this time, there is an official number of 3 casualties due to the avalanche with more expected to come as State Troopers comb through the debris.
Update, 4:17 p.m. Tuesday: Areas in the outskirts of Ashwick Valley and Spring Valley are reporting downed power lines and are without access to electricity. If you are in these areas, and are stranded please call 911 for emergencies.
Update, 9:32 a.m. Tuesday: Large sections of Cabrillo Highway, along with California State Routes 156 and 183 past Ashwick Valley have been blocked off due to mudslides and road closures. Before traveling, please call the CalTrans Highay Information Network at 800.427.6273
Update, 6:15 a.m. Tuesday: Ashwick Valley woke up to a blanket of snow Tuesday. The initial forecast of 7 inches had been expected and snow fell at an average of 7 inches, with some areas in The Plaines receiving 8 inches.
Update, 5:15 p.m. Monday: The National Weather Service warns of very icy roads late Monday night along the Interstate 5 corridor and the areas around the mountains of Valley County, Salinas, and Watsonville. The chance of precipitation Monday night is 97 percent. Wherever snow or freezing rain falls, roads will be slick and the commute will be slow overnight into Tuesday morning, according to NWS. Snow is expected to start by about 8 p.m.
Update, 1:45 p.m. Monday: 9News in Ashwick Valley predicts a longer snowfall until the weekend, and a more than modest snowfall of 7 to 9 inches for the Valley County area by end-of-day Tuesday.
Update, 10:45 a.m. Monday: Already thinking about your Tuesday morning commute? Here's what you need to know about how Ashwixk Valley officials decide where and when to plow streets. If you're hoping for a snow day, read up on how Ashwick School District officials make the call.
Original story, 7:45 AM Monday: A storm system rushing toward Valley communites will drop about 4 to 6 inches of snow on Monday night, National Weather Service forecasters predict. Snow showers are likely after 8 p.m. Monday as temperatures drop into the 20s, according to the NWS forecast. The heaviest snow is expected between midnight and 3 a.m.
If the forecast holds, Ashwick Valley and Spring Valley will wake up to several inches of snow. The storm is expected to wind down by about noon Tuesday. While the NWS "most likely" snow prediction is 4 to 6 inches, forecasters say there's potential for as little as 3 inches or as much as 8 inches.
Tuesday will be chilly, with temperatures lingering just below freezing or colder all day, according to the forecast. The predicted storm would be the biggest snowfall Valley County has seen so far this season. The first snow of fall on Oct. 9 brought 1.6 inches, according to the Reno Climate Center.