Passes closed for now

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat /

Sonora, Ebbetts and Tioga passes have closed intermittently since October - and are closed now - but when they will close for the duration of winter remains unknown, according to Caltrans.

The seasonal closing of the passes varies each year because it is contingent upon weather and road conditions, Caltrans spokeswoman Angela DaPrato said.

As of today, all three passes are closed.

Another storm that rolled into the Mother Lode overnight was expected to bring about three to eight inches of snow to elevations of 7,000 feet and above, before heading out this afternoon, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Kurth.

"It's a relatively mild storm," he said.

DaPrato said there is no specific amount of snow needed to close the passes for the season, but maintenance crews will survey road conditions next week.

"It is up to the maintenance supervisor to determine if the roadways are safe for motorists to travel upon," she said.

Sonora Pass on Highway 108 closes for 35 miles, from six miles east of Strawberry to seven miles west of Highway 395.

Ebbetts Pass on Highway 4 closes from Mount Reba Road to Highway 89 - a 29-mile stretch.

Tioga Pass, which is about 55 miles long, shuts down Highway 120 from Crane Flat to five miles west of Highway 395.

Last year's dry winter left Sonora, Ebbetts and Tioga passes open until late January, but heavy snow the previous winter shut them down before mid-December.

In 2004, the passes closed in October but have not closed that early since.

Drivers might be able to use Highway 88 over Carson Pass as an alternate route at some time periods during the winter, DaPrato said.

The reopening of the passes after winter also depends on weather and road conditions.

Passes reopened in early May this year, but did not open until late May and early June in 2010.

The latest a pass stayed closed over the last eight years was in 2004, when Tioga Pass did not reopen until June 24.

For highway conditions, visit www.dot.ca.gov/ or call 800-427-7623.

Dodge Ridge and Bear Valley ski areas are not yet open, but Bear Valley Cross Country plans to open Friday.

Contact Christina O'Haver at cohaver@uniondemocrat.com or 588-4526.

11884546
The Union Democrat
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