FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Conditions quickly changed as travelers headed up to the snow Tuesday morning, with rain at 5,000 feet but within 30 minutes it started to snow. This surprised a number of drivers traveling through the Sierra.
The series of storms hitting Central California this week has created excitement with people anxious to see snow in the Sierra. But a number of drivers are not prepared for winter type travel and that has increased tire chain sales at some auto part stores in the nearby foothills. "A lot of people buy them because they are required. But a lot of people try to go up there and get turned around either by a CHP officer or the road conditions. They just can't make it," said Rein Neal, Napa Auto Parts.
The California Highway Patrol said as soon as drivers see road signs telling them to put on chains they must find a spot to do that safely off the highway. But a number of people are driving without chains while others are playing in the snow along the highway. "We have snow parks, we've got ski resorts and the ski resorts have had a rough couple years. So they're running some great specials. They have the parking facilities to accommodate all these folks. The side of a highway is not where you want to have a snowball fight," said Justice Jones, California Highway Patrol.
One driver from Madera didn't have chains and as soon as the snow started to fall his car quickly spun out of control. "It's serious, it's really serious out here and it started snowing real bad. Yeah you just got be prepared, very cautious on how you drive," said Jonathan Pulido, Madera.
But one family visiting from the central coast was prepared. William Ward pulled his tire chains out of the garage before hitting the road and bought a snow park pass in advance. "Yeah. We're just going to the snow park. Our kids are off for the rest of the week. So we thought we would take advantage of the snow with the storm coming in. Obliviously it has worked out for us."
The CHP highly recommends drivers buy tire chains before heading up the Sierra and to practice putting them on your car at home before because conditions in the snow are just too dangerous.