MADERA COUNTY (KFSN) --The Sierra National Forest is seeing an incredible amount of snow this year, and recreational drivers are taking advantage of the fresh powder. However, the Madera County Sheriff's Office said what looks like thick layer of snow could end up being a dangerous drop.
On Sunday, a search and rescue team was sent out to help an ATV driver who experienced the issue first hand.
Sgt. Larry Rich said the recent rain has gone beneath the snow, washing out the road underneath, causing what looks to be sturdy snow to act like thin ice.
"It's undermining and we're finding that the snowmobilers and the side by side users are going over them," said Sgt. Larry Rich, Merced County Sheriff's Office.
Snow bridges are a problem for recreational drivers because if they go over them they could collapse.
"The snow could be 10 foot deep but in fact it's only a foot of depth because the water has washed it out," said Rich.
Rich said this is a problem they usually see around April or May, but the recent downpour is causing it to happen even sooner.
Officials with the U.S. Forest Service say they have already noted more than 20 roads affected.
"We've had rockslides on many of the roads; we do have a couple of roads that have been washed out pretty much completely. We're aware of as many as we've been able to see," said Alex Olow, Sierra National Forest.
Officials say they are handling damaged roads on a daily basis and will continue to do so as the snow continues to melt.
The Sheriff's Office said while recreational drivers are welcome, they want them to be aware and ask if they drive up to a washed out area, inspect it with a shovel and always plan to go off-roading with a partner.