Snow storm bedlam

By Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat February 19, 2013 04:40 pm

The first substantial winter storm of the year dumped heavy snow on the Mother Lode as low as LaGrange, causing massive traffic accidents and snarled traffic.

As of 4:20 p.m., the California Highway Patrol reported about 17 traffic incidents in Tuolumne County and 11 in Calaveras County. They included: • A minor collision involving a 13,000-pound armored vehicle on Highway 4 and Forest Meadows Drive, causing a 30-car pileup. •  A collision and pileup reportedly involving 50-100 vehicles on Highway 49 and Rawhide Road near Tuttletown. The California Highway Patrol responded with a snow plow and multiple tow trucks. An ambulance with a patient was having trouble getting through the pileup. The California Highway Patrol has noted snow all the way down to LaGrange and “accidents everywhere,” said Officer Jamie Pullen of the CHP’s Jamestown office. He said CHP officers are putting chains on their cars in Jamestown. Drivers are going too fast for conditions, he said. “Stay at home if you don’t need to go anywhere,” he said. “Put chains on and slow down.” Most of the traffic incidents in Calaveras County were minor, all due to weather, said a California Highway Patrol spokesman at the agency’s San Andreas office. He advised driving defensively, since even the most cautious drivers can be blindsided by careless ones. Snow was reported in Copperopolis, in the southern part of Calaveras County. Meanwhile, the snow gave some local students cause to sleep in. Summerville High School had called for a two-hour delay as of Tuesday afternoon, with school scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Twain Harte School started one hour late, with altered “snow transportation” bus routes. As of Tuesday afternoon, Sonora High School had not been cancelled or delayed. Its maintenance director drives roads at 4 a.m. to gauge their condition, said Principal Todd Dearden.