Sonora, CA – Stanislaus National Forest officials are advising that the next couple of days could bring rain-on-snow weather conditions making travel treacherous.
Forest Supervisor Jason Kuiken notes, “The heavy rain event should begin as snow and rain, but freezing levels are expected to rise to as much as 7,000 feet, which means some of the snowpack could thaw and cause some pretty significant flooding.”
There is also a risk that strong winds and heavy rain mixed with snow will increase the risk of falling trees, both dead and alive, impacting roadways, trails and parking areas. Forest spokesperson Diana Fredlund details, “We still have hazard trees and then there are some of the green trees that can be a problem just because the ground is so saturated and the roots are having a hard time hanging on.” She says that can be dangerous, stressing, “They can fall on cars, parking lots or even hit behind hikers so that it is possible they wouldn’t be able to come back the same way they started.” As reported here, the forest already sustained damage from falling tree after last week’s storms and Yosemite was hit even harder, as detailed here.
In addition, burn scars including the Ferguson and Donnell fires can create concerns. Fredlund explains, “There is no vegetation to hold the soil in place very easily. So, it’s possible that there could be debris slides and blocked culverts that produce flooding.”
Forest officials provided these safety tips for visitors during stormy weather:
- Stay informed about the latest weather conditions or consider postponing your trip until conditions have stabilized
- Carry chains, as they may be needed. Check on road conditions before leaving
- Pack a winter survival kit with water, food, blankets, and collapsible shovel
- Be aware that trees can fall behind you, potentially blocking your exit route; research alternate routes that are available
- Let family and friends know your travel plans and expected return time. Cell phone coverage is limited across the forest
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