Snow accumulations aren't rare in the California Motherlode, however, snow at the 1,200 to 1,400 ft elevation is rather uncommon. The low snow created a terrible p.m. commute, and up to 600 power outages.
Snow started falling in Jamestown today just after 2:00 p.m., by 2:30 p.m. there were two inches on the ground and traffic in the area took a hit. From Jamestown to above Sonora, a stretch spanning nearly five miles long, the traffic on Highway 108 was snarled and nearly ground to a halt.
By 4:30 with many residents leaving work early to get home before getting stuck "down the hill", traffic became a 5-10 m.p.h. crawl. Large numbers of foothills residents "down the hill" in two-wheel vehicles created even greater problems when they spun out, slid off the road, or simply got stuck and blocked the roadways.
At one point, the California Highway Patrol had almost fifty incidents in progress. From fender benders, to cars blocking the roads and vehicles which had slid off the roadway. Digital Journal was on the scene and in the midst of this mess trying to get home also.
The snow was heavy, with a high water content and unfortunately a number of trees fell victim to the excess loads. It was also absolutely great snowball snow though. The resident snowball expert, growing up at Lake Tahoe, judged it to be "really perfect" snowball snow.
The blank spot in front of the fallen tree is where a car was parked, the tree missed the car by roughly five feet, with the vehicle's owner being very grateful it escaped unharmed.
By 6:00 p.m. downtown Sonora had four to five inches of snow, and it was obvious who was used to driving in snow and who wasn't. With streets originally designed for horses and wagons and quite a few rather steep roads, areas within the city limits of Sonora became a large parking lot.
The two primary routes through Sonora, Mono Way, and the Highway 108 Bypass were brought to a halt by the slow traffic, and snowy conditions. As reported by Sabrina Ambler at My Motherlode it even became necessary to set up an emergency First Aid station on Greenley Rd, for motorists who were stuck in that area.
School bus delays, cancelled bus routes, school closures and blocked roads created a major problem for some parents trying to retrieve their children from area schools. Power outages throughout the Motherlode ran from Jamestown, East Sonora, Twain Harte, Groveland and Murphy's with downed lines being difficult for the PG&E crews to reach while the roads were icy and blocked by vehicles, and more than 1,000 area residents in the dark.