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Heading to San Diego's snow? Prepare for icy roads, delays

Posted at 8:10 AM, Nov 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-30 15:27:32-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Fluffy, fresh snow will beckon San Diegans, and road advisories, to the mountains this weekend.

Thanksgiving Day's storm brought fresh powder and rain to San Diego mountains. Areas including Julian, Descanso, Pine Valley, and Mt. Laguna saw between two and 12 inches of snow Friday, depending on elevation.

Saturday, chain requirements were canceled for State route 79 just north of Interstate 8 to Sr-78/Sr-79 junction in Julian, and on Sr-78 from Banner Grade to Sr-78/Sr-79 junction in Santa Ysabel.

Visitors quickly arrived in Julian Saturday, where streets were clear of snow but packed with cars:

Sunrise Highway, from Pine Valley to Mt. Laguna, was scheduled to reopen on the southside between Old Highway 80 in Pine Valley to Mile post 27 at 12 p.m., though chains will be required past the 5,000 elevation level. At Palomar Mountain, State Park Rd. is closed from Upper Meadow Rd. and Bailey Meadow Rd. due to downed telephone wires.


For areas north leading to Big Bear Mountain, a popular snow stop for San Diegans, chains were required Saturday. Highway 18 from Lucerne Valley and Highway 330 from Highland to Big Bear were both under an R3 chain requirement. Highway 18 from Running Springs and Highway 38 from Redlands to Big Bear were closed.

Depending on the level of snow and ice, different restrictions will be in place for chain control in California throughout the season.

  • Requirement 1 (R1): Chains are required on all vehicles except passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks under 6,000 pounds gross weight and equipped with snow tires1 on at least two drive wheels. Chains must be carried by vehicles using snow tires. All vehicles towing trailers must have chains on one drive axle. Trailers with brakes must have chains on at least one axle.
  • Requirement 2 (R2): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels. Four wheel/all wheel drive vehicles must carry traction devices in chain control areas.
  • Requirement 3 (R3): Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

RELATED: Snow in San Diego! Here's what you'll need and where to go for snow

If you're heading to the snow, chains aren't the only thing recommended. A full tank of gas, warm clothes, and extra snacks will make the trip, and any delays, manageable for starters:

  • Water and snacks — enough for general hunger and in case you get stuck
  • Heavy jacket, sweater, gloves, hat or beanie, snow/hiking boots, heavy socks, thermal clothing, extra clothing if desired
  • Blankets for car ride or stopping off outside
  • Toys for the snow, like sleds
  • Chapstick or sunscreen — it's still San Diego

The California Highway Patrol also offers several tips when heading up to the snow around the state: