SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. — Roads are back open in both directions on the I-5 after drivers traveling between northern California and southern Oregon were stuck for nearly 24 hours on the snowed-in highway.
Tuesday’s bomb cyclone brought much-needed snow to the mountains, but it wreaked havoc on our roads during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year. The wind, rain, and snow, knocked out power, brought down trees, and shut down highways throughout our region.
The past 24 hours have been a nightmare for people traveling through northern California.
“There’s approximately 1,500 to 2,000 cars stranded here,” said Gold Hill resident, Cecil Connor, who was stranded three miles north of Dunsmuir for 22 hours.
Around 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, Caltrans made the call to shut down I-5 northbound entirely, 10 miles north of Redding.
“We’ve dealt with things like this before, it’s usually just not the first one out of the gate,” said Don Anderson, Caltrans Deputy District Director of Maintenance and Operations.
Caltrans said while drivers were required to have chains, nearly 100 cars spun out of control, many never even put them on.
“Majority and I would say ninety percent of all the accidents, spin-outs, and what happens, was because of people not putting their chains on,” said Anderson.
All the while snow continued to fall and as cars piled up, plows couldn’t keep clearing the road.
“There are hundreds of cars I mean I don’t know how far it is behind me I talked to a couple that walked up towards this direction and passed me and they said they were two miles behind me,” said Connor.
Connor said while he was prepared with a full tank of gas, and food and water, he’s worried about people who weren’t.
“I spent a nice comfortable night in the back seat but I’m sure there are people that are way worse shape than I am.”
Road crews said any time you’re driving over the mountain passes in southern Oregon and northern California you should leave prepared. It’s best to have chains, a full tank of gas, food, water and blankets in case you get stuck.
NBC5 News Multimedia Journalist Rayvan Vares was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i. He graduated from Southern Oregon University with a degree in Communication. While attending SOU, he studied abroad in Japan.
When he’s not reporting, Rayvan enjoys working out, dancing hula, and traveling. Feel free to email him with story ideas, [email protected]