Heavy Snowfall Takes It's Toll in Sierra Foothills
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 by Frank Shortt
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To those who have never lived in snow country there is a charm as the snow gathers on limbs of trees, fence posts, and piles up enough to make a snowman. Smiles wreath children’s faces as they play, ride sleighs, and have snowball fights!

The foothill towns of the Sierra ranges have not seen the likes of snow for many years as has fallen this winter season which began October first and supposedly will end sometime around the end of April. Old timers have said that this is the worst winter season in the past 50 years. Not being used to heavy snowfall in the lower foothills, these folks were not ready for three, sometimes four feet of snow that swooped down upon them suddenly in the night. These heavier snowfalls are usually reserved and recorded in the higher elevations, not down to the 4,000 foot level.

Snow gathering in trees will normally fall to the ground as the limbs of pine and cedar become too heavy. This season, the storms have somehow started out with wetter snow, but as temperatures dropped, the snow becoming frozen clung to tops of trees and limbs, causing them to break with a great snap, damaging whatever they hit as they fell.

One poor family in Grizzly Flat, a small settlement in the Sierra foothills, lost every electrical appliance during one of the latest storms. They could scarcely afford to lose even one. These latest storms will again put the burden upon the beleaguered PG&E Company that is responsible to supply power to these outlying communities. My wife and I lost our microwave, the transformer for their central heat, and the garage door power supply! Alas! We had no electrical power surge protectors to prevent electricity from surging to our appliances, only the computer room had this inexpensive device. Power surges can enter a home through several pathways. In the case of lightening, it can take the path of the television cable, or satellite dish cable (which most families have in rural areas of the mountains), through incoming telephone lines, or through existing electrical service lines. However the power surges enter, anything not protected by power surge protectors can be damaged permanently!

The latest storms have wreaked havoc on mountain roads where CalTrans workers were already overloaded keeping Rt. 80 and Rt. 50 open. Children in the smaller communities will have to make up days of school due to days lost by the unexpected harsh winter. Usually, if the snows are not that harsh, the snowplows can keep the roads open for school buses, delivery trucks, the mail truck, and those who have to take the road down to lower elevations to their jobs.

It is expected that the ones hit hardest by these storms will remember to have things on hand in preparation for the next bad winter when the snow decides to slide lower than usual. Residents in the upper Sierras are breathing a sigh of relief and saying, “Thank God” for the respite!