Highway 168 closed until at least Saturday morning

Many who planned to take on the slopes at China Peak improvised and supported local businesses along the way.
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- UPDATE:

The California Highway Patrol says Highway 168 has reopened after a temporary closure due to heavy snow. CHP added that for the time being, chains are required at the top of the 4-lane.

The original story follows below.


They may not be shredding the way they'd planned to on the slopes of China Peak, but Dionysios Pettas and his friends are making the most of what their snowboarding trip turned into in the parking lot of Shaver Lake Sports.

After making the trek from San Luis Obispo, the group stayed in Shaver Lake.

"We were here about 5 hours and decided to go out for a drive and saw a foot of snow on top of the truck," says Pettas.

With the National Weather Service reporting that the Huntington Lake area received 67 inches and Tamarack Summit got roughly 44 inches of snow, the area saw enough to bury the roadways and cars along with it.

"We got a lot of digging to do just to get out of the room," says Pettas.

They weren't the only ones with shovels in hand.

"The cars overnight, they got buried," says Shaver Lake visitor Joseph Moreno.

Caltrans crews worked aggressively to clear roadways, but two snowplow failures meant 168 would be closed until at least Saturday morning - a decision that wasn't made lightly.

"It hurts my crews when they have to close a roadway. It's definitely not something they want to do. They're definitely out there working. It's disheartening when they have to make that decision, but ultimately it comes down to safety," says Elizabeth Yelton with Caltrans.

Caltrans borrowed a snowblower from their Porterville yard. However, until all are fully operational, the road will remain closed.

"With a huge task to keep that roadway clean with the amount of snow in the area the equipment, it just can't do what we need it to do," says Yelton.

Many who planned to take on the slopes at China Peak improvised and supported local businesses along the way.

"It does help the community. Many of the people here in Shaver Lake are still suffering because of the Creek Fire," says Fresno County supervisor Nathan Magsig.

Because people aren't able to get up to China Peak, many homeowners want to remind people visiting to respect private property.

They're seeing a lot of people pull over parking and playing in the snow on their property.

The soonest we'll see 168 reopen is Saturday morning.
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