Ice and snow on steep, winding roads has stopped Waste Management trucks from collecting trash for 1,900 residential customers in multiple hillside and mountain communities off Highway 108 since Feb. 1, a spokesperson for the Texas-based corporation said Monday.
Lingering ice and snow from Sunday’s storm was also an issue Monday for Pacific Gas and Electric crews working to restore power in several mountain neighborhoods. As of 1 p.m., there were more than 475 PG&E customers without power in East Sonora, Twain Harte, Mi-Wuk Village and Long Barn. There were also scattered outages reported in Arnold, Mountain Ranch, Rail Road Flat, Mokelumne Hill, and east of Groveland.
Forecasters say below-freezing temperatures Tuesday morning could damage early-budding plants and trees in the Mother Lode. There’s a frost advisory in effect from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tuesday. Overnight lows for the Sonora area are forecast in the low 20s early Tuesday, 28 degrees early Wednesday, 29 early Thursday and 27 early Thursday.
Another storm, coming Wednesday and Thursday, is expected to bring low amounts of moisture, including low snow in some foothill communities. The approaching system is described as weaker and lighter than storms last week and Sunday.
Storms this month have helped make this February one of the wettest on record in the Mother Lode. As of Monday, precipitation in the Stanislaus and Tuolumne river basins increased to 33.8 inches since the current water year began Oct. 1. That’s 137 percent of average for the date Feb. 18. Nearly half the Mother Lode’s precipitation so far this water year has come in the past three weeks.
Snowfall measurements from this past weekend were not available for Sonora. The National Weather Service reported Cedar Ridge at 3,760 feet elevation had 10 inches of new snow by Saturday morning and 16 more inches by Sunday afternoon.
Cal Sierra Waste Management has more than 10,000 residential customers in Tuolumne County and zero customers in Calaveras County, Paul Rosynsky, a Waste Management communications specialist for Northern California and Nevada, said Monday.
As of Monday, about 1,900 residential customers in Tuolumne County had not been serviced since Feb. 1 due to dangerous road conditions, Rosynsky said. About 7,000 residential customers have been getting regular service in spite of cold, wet, wintry weather conditions.
Road conditions are considered too dangerous for Waste Management trucks in places like Twain Harte, Mi-Wuk Village, Strawberry, Sierra Village, Sugarpine, Cold Springs and Cedar Ridge, Rosynsky said.
Operations will resume as soon as roads are cleared, but no definitive date has been determined, Rosynsky said Monday.
Weather delays for Waste Management trucks have included time taken for installing and removing truck tire snow chains, increased frequency of trips to transfer station, heavier garbage loads due to moisture, rain and snow, and DOT regulations on the amount of garbage weight Waste Management trucks can hold, Rosynsky said.
Tuolumne County roads crews and Caltrans roads crews have been working overtime the past three weeks to try to keep county and state roads clear in spite of three different instances of historically rare, low-elevation snowstorms so far this month. Local and state governments have limited employees in Tuolumne County and can legally offer only so much overtime, according to communications staff with both agencies. Some roads remain unplowed due to the freakish nature of recent low-snow storms, and due to the finite number of roads workers employed by the county and the state.
In the meantime, Rosynsky said, Waste Management is offering customers in unserviced areas alternatives to deal with not having trash and recycling pickups. For more information, customers can call the Cal Sierra Disposal-Waste Management Weather Hotline at (888) 558-0616 at any time, to find out if their service will be affected and what options are available should there be a collection delay.
As of noon Monday, Big Oak Flat Road and Highway 120 West, El Portal Road and Highway 140, and the Highway 41 Wawona Road were all open in Yosemite National Park with chain restrictions in place.
Most Calaveras County and Tuolumne County government offices were closed Monday for the Presidents’ Day holiday. Most state and federal employees were supposed to get credit for the Presidents’ Day holiday as well.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter at @GuyMcCarthy.