Northern California snow in foothills: Driving ideas from AAA

Can you drive in the snow? Can your fellow motorists?

Snow has hit low elevations across California this week. Parts of Placer and El Dorado counties — even Sacramento County — could see snowfall starting around 1,000 feet in elevation. Snow fell in the northern Sacramento Valley overnight Thursday.

You’ll want to be prepared. For the “pros” and the uninitiated, slick and slippery roads could spell delays and danger, even if it’s a small amount.

These are the tips to prepare for snowy roads where you might not usually encounter them:

How to prepare for snowy roads

John Treanor, a spokesman for AAA Northern California, told The Sacramento Bee first and foremost: “Don’t drive unless you really have to.”

The National Weather Service is predicting dangerous road conditions, especially at higher elevations. Whiteout conditions are possible.

But even in the foothills, you’ll want to be prepared.

“With those snow levels so low it could be dangerous to travel,” said Hannah Chandler-Cooley with the weather service in Sacramento. “The slick roads, significant delays and possibly even road closures over Highway 50 or any of the other highways up there.”

Treanor offers a few key tips you’ll want to remember:

  • Give yourself and the drivers around you space
  • Take extra time to slow down at stoplights, signs and on the freeways
  • Drive slower than usual
  • Make sure your windshield wipers are in operable condition and you have plenty of fluid (if you’re low on fluid, you can consider filling up with non-freezing solution if you plan on being in higher elevations)

“If road conditions are less visible, if you have a lot of falling snow, make sure your lights are on,” he said. “And you can turn your hazard lights on as well.”

Roads can be slicker than they look, Treanor said, and you might not even see ice when it forms, especially on overpasses and bridges. If you start to skid, here’s what to do:

  • Remain calm
  • Turn into the direction of the skid. This will help you keep control during and after the skid
  • Don’t slam on your breaks
  • Have a plan if you go off the road

Remember: “It’s not just you; it’s the drivers around you that are also not used to driving in these conditions.”

Your emergency kit could include the following, he said:

  • Extra clothes
  • Blanket
  • Water
  • Charged cellphone, a charger or extra phone to call 911
  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel
  • Kitty litter or sand (in case you get stuck, it can help give you traction)

According to Consumer Reports, consider the following items as well:

  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Battery booster cables

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This tale was initially released February 21, 2023, 2:49 PM.

Associated stories from Sacramento Bee

Savanna Smith sales opportunities The Bee’s services journalism workforce as editor. A graduate of the University of Kansas, she beforehand worked at The Kansas City Star as a breaking news and viewers editor. She has levels in journalism and humanities.

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