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Inland Empire snow, rain may freeze overnight

December 7, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
While some may call it a winter wonderland, it's looking more like a sludgy, sloppy mess because snow fall has been replaced with rain fall. The roads are in good conditions with only about an inch of snow. Snow plows come through regularly, but chains or a four-wheel-drive car are still required to go up to the mountain. The transition from snow to rain may cause freezing problems overnight.

Fortunately, it is not a holiday weekend and the traffic in the San Bernardino Mountains is relatively light.

However, that doesn't mean the driving conditions are easy, and with heavy snowfall, chains were already required as early as Monday morning. Truck drivers got their first chance to install their chains, which can be a difficult task no matter how many times you've done it.

After three years of mountain-driving under his belt, truck driver Dave Alcaire said he's still getting used to the process of applying the difficult chains.

"It's that first time because it's the beginning of the year. Once we get through this stage right here, then we'll be good to go," said Alcaire.

"I'm no expert, but the last time I went up here, I actually ended up coming down the mountain or hill backwards. So I'm just taking my time and doing it right this time. So, I'm a little nervous," admitted another truck driver Jeff Fisher.

Once on the mountain, it's easy to see why that driver was so nervous. There were several vehicles that had either spun out of control or were simply bogged down and got stuck in the heavy snow. Caltrans reminded people Monday to slow down.

"All it takes is one look away or one little incident to kill somebody, so please be careful," said Terri Kasingna of Caltrans.

But a difficult day on the roads was a great day for students who got to extend their weekend because schools in the San Bernardino Mountains were closed for a snow day.

Sixth grader Mason Fowles was thrilled to get the day off, but was still not completely off the hook.

"I'm helping my grandma shovel snow," he said.

"Keep the schools clear. Just go around so all the kids can get in, all the doors have to be clear. Chain up our buses. If we have school tomorrow, we have to be ready for it. We just keep doing that in a circle," said Todd Foerch, a school bus driver.

The big question parents and students up in the mountains are asking is if school will be back open Tuesday. That all depends on the roads. If conditions are safe enough for the morning commute for buses and for parents to get their kids to school, those schools will be open. But that's a decision that probably won't be made until very early Tuesday morning.


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