CHP, Caltrans warn drivers of black ice while driving up mountains

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County California Highway Patrol is warning drivers to be ready for inclement weather if they're driving up the mountain to Shaver Lake.

Strangers helped a driver take off the tire chains from his vehicle after it got stuck in the snow on the way down the mountain.

A woman from Easton did what she could to assist.

"They needed a flashlight and a tire iron, I did have that," she said.

She also had some help getting her chains on her tires.

"A really nice gentleman helped us put our chains on and it snowed all the way up to Shaver," she said.

The snow also posing challenges to those driving up Highway 168 towards Shaver Lake.

Signs at the Valley floor warned of ice and urging drivers to have their chains ready.

"Make sure they have their chains with them. If two-wheel drive, they need to have them on," said CHP officer Mario Ochoz. "Four-wheel drive needs to have them in the vehicle, they don't need to have them on, but they need to be in the car."

Caltrans crews are working 12-hour shifts to clear roadways under their storm protocol.

"They are constantly running machines up and down the roadways, so either they are sanding, removing snow at night time," said Elizabeth Yelton with Caltrans.

When the sun goes down, another factor comes into play -- black ice. Officer Ochoa says to stay calm if you hit a patch.

"Let go off the gas, don't hit the brakes because you are going to spin out. Nice and easy come to a slow stop," he said.

CHP is warning drivers to drive slow as they drive up and pay attention.

Caltrans also wants to remind drivers to stay off the roadways and park in the designated areas. Snowplows are going up and down the highway, but their jobs become difficult if people are in the way.

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Others have welcomed the snow with gusto.

"It's so awesome! I love it, we love it," said Dee Heirendt. "It has brought tons of people to come up and play in the snow."

The Shaver Lake Sports manager is excited about the season change and the business that comes with it.

"Done a lot of skis and snowboard rentals and even did some snowshoeing today. A lot of people rented some snowshoes, so fantastic weather," Heirendt said.

One of the biggest sellers is tire cables and chains.

"If you are just coming up for the day, cables are great. They are a little bit cheaper because when you are going into chains, you are getting closer to the $150 to the $200 range," Heirendt said.

With snowfall and even ice on the road, Fresno County CHP is advising all drivers to have their chains on hand and ready.

Heirendt is urging people to make the drive and enjoy their stay.

"Come on up, come play in the snow. A lot of people live in Fresno and have never been up here, so come up and enjoy it, see the mountains."
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