After three days of rain and snow, a powerful winter storm arrived in the Eastern Sierra causing more trouble than the previous weather – accidents, airport and highway closures, and transit cancellations.
Accidents on local roads and highways had local emergency crews busy all day.
Forecasters had called for high winds, and this time they were right. Gusts of 100 miles per hour were clocked at the top of Mammoth Mountain. In the lower elevations, emergency crews were called out to Sunland Drive in Bishop at about 10:30 in the morning for a report of a vehicle hit by a downed tree. One occupant of the Green Jeep Cherokee was taken to the hospital as a precaution according to CHP. County crews cleared the tree off the road.
Just as the weather really started to pick up around noon, law enforcement and ambulance crews were called out to a single vehicle roll over about one mile south of Bishop. The driver, a 38-year-old male, was not in the vehicle. Scanner traffic indicated that the man had been drinking and had been driving about 55-60 miles per hour when the accident occurred.
Tough conditions on the roads were widely reported. At about 10:30 am CHP responded to a jackknifed big rig near Benton which appears to have slid on what was described as one inch of ice on the highway. At about 1:15 pm CHP reported a big rig stuck on Deadmans Summit between Mammoth and June Lake. 395 between Mammoth and Bridgeport had shut down just minutes before the rig was called in.
Drivers could still get into Mammoth at last word, though conditions from the Sherwin Grade onward were tough, with less than fifty yard visibility reported.
In the town of Mammoth, the Trolley shut down for the day and Dial-a-Ride was set to shut down at 3:00pm. The ESTA bus that was scheduled to leave Mammoth for Bishop at 5:15 pm was also cancelled.
Flights into Mammoth Airport were cancelled due the weather. The airport was closed indefinitely.
This wet winter weather is expected to continue through at least Friday. Forecaster Dennis Mattinson says that snow levels during these next two storms will likely fluctuate between four and five thousand feet. Snow in the Owens Valley is possible at times through Friday.