Be Prepared Before Driving to Mountains to Play in Snow

A snowy field and snow-dusted trees in the local mountains.
Know what to expect if you head to our local mountains for a snow day and stay safe.

Snow is predicted for local mountains on Thanksgiving, and we can expect thousands of San Diego County residents to jump in their vehicles to head up there for some wintry fun over the long holiday weekend.

If that includes you, the County wants to remind you to be prepared before you go.

One to two feet of snow is forecast for mountains above 5,500 feet, but snow could dip as low as 3,000 feet, possibly impacting stretches of Interstate 8, according to the National Weather Service. A winter storm warning is in effect for mountains above 3,000 feet from 4 a.m. Wednesday to 10 p.m. Friday.

The following are tips and considerations for you if you plan to drive up to the snow:

  • Be prepared for significant traffic delays in both directions due to both road conditions and the sheer volume of motorists. Prior snowfalls have left drivers in up to five-hour waits on the roads.
  • You should have a full tank of gas. Don’t count on filling up along the way.
  • Bring food and water in case of a long delay.
  • Related bonus tip: don’t drink too much water because public restroom facilities are limited in the mountain areas.
  • Find out if snow chains are required by the California Highway Patrol on certain roadways. You wouldn’t want to get up to the area, only to be turned away.
  • Carry snow chains for your vehicle in case you need them. Conditions on the ground can change rapidly
  • Be prepared to put snow chains on your vehicle if the conditions warrant it.
  • Before you go, check your snow chains to be sure they aren’t worn out or broken. Make sure you know how to put them on properly.
  • Check weather and road conditions before heading out and as often as you can do so safely as conditions can change from hour to hour.
  • Chain controls, road condition updates and other safety advisories about County-maintained roads are posted on the Department of Public Work’s Facebook and Twitter. But again, be aware that conditions on the ground can change rapidly.
  • Be aware that private property is off limits to the public for recreational snow activities.
  • Pay attention to signs and fences marking private property.
  • Parking is limited in the snowfall areas and parking violations will be enforced.
  • Vehicles blocking roadways and private property will be towed.
  • When parking, take care not to disturb plants, trees and shrubs.
  • And lastly, all visitors to the area need to pack out any trash, if a receptacle is not available or is full.
Yvette Urrea Moe is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact