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Caltrans is alerting motorists to an incoming storm that may deliver up to a foot of snow in the Sierra and rain with strong winds in the Sacramento Valley area, making travel challenging this week.

The first winter storm of the season is expected to deliver 12 to 18 inches of snow over Donner Summit on Interstate 80 (I-80) and 4 to 6 inches over Echo Summit on U.S. Highway 50 (US 50) beginning this morning and lasting into Wednesday afternoon.

Snow is expected to begin falling this morning between 6,500-7,000 feet elevation, with snow levels dropping by Wednesday morning to around 3,500-4,000 feet, according to the National Weather Service. Drivers should be prepared for travel delays with reduced visibility over the passes. The forecast calls for clear skies Thursday and Friday.

In the valley areas, 0.25-2 inches of rainfall is predicted for the Chico and Sacramento valley areas. Rain totals of up to 2 inches are possible in the foothills. Strong wind gusts of up to 25 mph are also predicted in the foothill and valley areas. Motorists should be alert for downed tree limbs or power lines due to strong winds. 

Chain controls and additional travel time should be expected in mountain areas, with temporary highway closures possible due to spinouts. Motorists are advised that speed limits during chain controls are reduced to 30 mph on I-80 and 25 mph on US 50.

Caltrans reminds drivers to winterize vehicles by ensuring tires are properly inflated and have good tread (minimum 6/32” in snow areas), and to stock up with water, blankets, snacks, a flashlight and a full tank of gas before mountain travel. More tips for safe winter driving and information about chain controls can be found at dot.ca.gov/travel/winter-driving-tips. Caltrans District 3 recommends following the National Weather Service offices in Sacramento and Reno for daily weather forecasts. 

District 3 is responsible for maintaining and operating 4,385 lane miles in 11 Sacramento Valley and Northern Sierra counties. Check out Caltrans’ “QuickMap” for current road conditions and chain requirements at quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ or download the free QuickMap app on the App Store or Google Play. Motorists also can call the California Highway Information Network automated phone service at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623).