When Visiting the Snow-Capped San Bernardino County Mountains, Be Prepared…

By on February 14, 2019

After a dismal rain and snow season last year, this year’s snow-capped San Bernardino County (SBC) mountains have been a sight to behold on the recent days when glimpses of the local ranges have peaked through the rain clouds. But a winter trek to the local mountains requires preparation and planning. SBC police and fire agencies, Caltrans and other government entities are joining mountain residents and businesses in welcoming visitors, snow enthusiasts and weekenders in asking for courtesy and preparation.

  • Rain and snow are expected this coming weekend and throughout much of next week in the local mountains. Always check the weather forecast in the days prior to a trip to the mountains and especially the day before/day of your trip. Weather can change rapidly in mountain areas.
  • Install Caltrans Highway Information Network (CHIN) phone number: 800-427-7623 on your cell phone for convenient, updated road conditions.
  • Heavy fog is common on mountain highways. Motorists are reminded to be alert, slow for weather conditions and use headlights while driving. Avoid travel during storm events.
  • Check your vehicle’s antifreeze and be ready for colder temperatures.
  • Concentrated windshield washer fluid may need to be added to the windshield washer fluid reservoir to prevent an icy windshield. More information about this type of windshield washer fluid can be found on the California Air Resources Board web site at: https://www.arb.ca.gov/consprod/regact/awwf/awwf.htm.
  • Check your tires. Make sure they are properly inflated and the tread is in good condition.
  • Always carry tire chains when traveling in the mountains during the winter months. Make sure they are the proper size for your tires and are in working order. Chains must be installed on the drive wheels. Make sure you know if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive.
  • The San Bernardino Mountain regions have Caltrans-permitted and trained chain installers available during periods when chains are required. If you plan to install tire chains yourself be prepared with a flashlight, chain repair links and any tools you may need or which will make chain installation easier.
  • Keep an extra car key in your pocket. Motorists have inadvertently locked themselves out of their cars when putting on chains and at ski areas.
  • Items to carry in your car during trips to snow areas are an ice scraper or commercial de-icer, a broom for brushing snow off your car, a shovel to free your car if it becomes “snowed in”, sand or burlap for traction if your wheels should become stuck in snow and old towels to clean your hands.
  • Stock vehicles with water, snacks, blankets, a charged cell phone, a cell phone charger, flashlight and a full tank of gas before visiting the mountains.
  • When driving on weather compromised roads slow down and be especially observant of your surroundings.
  • If your vehicle stalls out, stay with your vehicle and try to conserve fuel while maintaining warmth. Be alert to any possible exhaust or monoxide problems.
  • Give snowplows room to work.  A “strike team” may include several plow trucks, including Tow Plows and wing plows using multiple lanes on a major highway.  Stay at least four (4) car lengths back from snowplows and snow removal equipment.
  • Salt brine trucks as well as sand and cinder-spreading trucks have signs saying “Stay Back”. This is for your safety since material can be spread/sprayed across multiple lanes.
  • Equipment operators must focus on snow removal and cannot always watch out for motorists. Refrain from, or use extreme caution, when passing snow removal equipment.
  • Motorists should anticipate delays and longer travel time during inclement weather. Age appropriate amusements for children may come in handy if you are detained in your vehicle for any length of time.
  • Park only in areas clearly designated for parking. Illegally parked vehicles, especially those blocking roads or snow plows, will be quickly towed away.
  • Visitors should carry their trash down the mountain with them or use one of the dumpsters located along state highways 18 and 330, which are generously provided through a partnership between SBC government, Caltrans and Burrtec.
  • Check out Caltrans’ “Quick Map” for current road conditions and chain requirements at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov. For real-time traffic, download the Quick Map app on iTunes or Google Play.
  • Weather conditions may warrant detours away from the main roadway. It is strongly suggested that drivers always keep an updated map of the mountains area with you at all times; cell phone service (and GPS service) may not be available at all times and in certain mountain areas so plan to NOT be able to rely on internet services.
  • Use common sense and be courteous. The local mountains are the full-time home to thousands of people. Respect the private property and the privacy of these residents and their ability to go about their daily lives.

In spite of all these cautions and recommendations the vast majority of people have a great day in the local mountains when visiting and playing in the snow.  SBC law enforcement will be present in greater numbers and will actively enforce laws concerning driving, chains, parking, roadside play and littering. They will also be present to help ensure you and you family and friends have a great time in the local mountains!